Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Graham Thompson


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.