Worker honeybees proceed through a sequence of tasks, passing from hive and guard duties to foraging activities. The underlying neuronal changes accompanying and possibly mediating these behavioral transitions are not well understood. We studied changes in the microglomerular organization of the mushroom bodies, a brain region involved in sensory integration, learning, and memory, during adult maturation. We visualized the MB lips' microglomerular organization by applying double labeling of presynaptic projection neuron boutons and postsynaptic Kenyon cell spines, which form microglomerular complexes. Their number and density, as well as the bouton volume, were measured using 3D-based techniques. Our results show that the number of microglomerular complexes and the bouton volumes increased during maturation, independent of environmental conditions. In contrast, manipulations of behavior and sensory experience caused a decrease in the number of microglomerular complexes, but an increase in bouton volume. This may indicate an outgrowth of synaptic connections within the MB lips during honeybee maturation. Moreover, manipulations of behavioral and sensory experience led to adaptive changes, which indicate that the microglomerular organization of the MB lips is not static and determined by maturation, but rather that their organization is plastic, enabling the brain to retain its synaptic efficacy.
(Copyright) 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.