Dopamine release in mushroom bodies of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) in response to aversive stimulation

Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 2;8(1):16277. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34460-1.


In Drosophila melanogaster, aversive (electric shock) stimuli have been shown to activate subpopulations of dopaminergic neurons with terminals in the mushroom bodies (MBs) of the brain. While there is compelling evidence that dopamine (DA)-induced synaptic plasticity underpins the formation of aversive memories in insects, the mechanisms involved have yet to be fully resolved. Here we take advantage of the accessibility of MBs in the brain of the honey bee to examine, using fast scan cyclic voltammetry, the kinetics of DA release and reuptake in vivo in response to electric shock, and to investigate factors that modulate the release of this amine. DA increased transiently in the MBs in response to electric shock stimuli. The magnitude of release varied depending on stimulus duration and intensity, and a strong correlation was identified between DA release and the intensity of behavioural responses to shock. With repeated stimulation, peak DA levels increased. However, the amount of DA released on the first stimulation pulse typically exceeded that evoked by subsequent pulses. No signal was detected in response to odour alone. Interestingly, however, if odour presentation was paired with electric shock, DA release was enhanced. These results set the stage for analysing the mechanisms that modulate DA release in the MBs of the bee.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / drug effects
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Electrodes
  • Electroshock / instrumentation
  • Electroshock / methods
  • Male
  • Mushroom Bodies / cytology
  • Mushroom Bodies / drug effects
  • Mushroom Bodies / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Nomifensine / pharmacology
  • Odorants


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Nomifensine
  • Dopamine