Master of Science
If eusociality evolved through modification of pre-social mechanisms for regulating personal reproduction, then even insects like Drosophila may be vulnerable to latent effects of 'queen' pheromone. Here, I test if male fruit flies respond to a eusocial queen bee pheromone. I found that male flies were attracted to queen bee pheromone, and pheromone-treated males raised the intensity of their courting towards conspecific females. These novel observations from Drosophila suggest that male flies have the capacity to respond to queen pheromone in a manner that is comparable to the native response from male (drone) bees. I therefore optimized a nuclear factor of activated T-cell (NFAT) system to label olfactory neurons that are putatively responsive to the pro-reproductive pheromone. The NFAT reporter system implicates three neurons (Or-49b, Or-56a, Or-98a) that, if shown to function similarly in drones, will validate my use of Drosophila to probe otherwise unknown mechanisms of social bee communication.
Croft, Justin R., "Tracking behavioural and neuronal responses to social pheromones: Insights from a Drosophila model" (2017). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 4570.