We report that regions of the honey bee brain involved in visual processing and learning and memory show a specific genomic response to distance information. These results were obtained with an established method that separates effects of perceived distance from effects of actual distance flown. Individuals forced to shift from a short to perceived long distance to reach a feeding site showed gene expression differences in the optic lobes and mushroom bodies relative to individuals that continued to perceive a short distance, even though they all flew the same distance. Bioinformatic analyses suggest that the genomic response to distance information involves learning and memory systems associated with well-known signaling pathways, synaptic remodeling, transcription factors and protein metabolism. By showing distance-sensitive brain gene expression, our findings also significantly extend the emerging paradigm of the genome as a dynamic regulator of behavior, that is particularly responsive to stimuli important in social life.
© 2010 The Authors. Genes, Brain and Behavior © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society.