Individual differences in behaviour are often consistent across time and contexts, but it is not clear whether such consistency is reflected at the molecular level. We explored this issue by studying scouting in honeybees in two different behavioural and ecological contexts: finding new sources of floral food resources and finding a new nest site. Brain gene expression profiles in food-source and nest-site scouts showed a significant overlap, despite large expression differences associated with the two different contexts. Class prediction and `leave-one-out´ cross-validation analyses revealed that a beeʹs role as a scout in either context could be predicted with 92.5٪ success using 89 genes at minimum.We also found that genes related to four neurotransmitter systems were part of a shared brain molecular signature in both types of scouts, and the two types of scouts were more similar for genes related to glutamate and GABA than catecholamine or acetylcholine signalling. These results indicate that consistent behavioural tendencies across different ecological contexts involve a mixture of similarities and differences in brain gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20141868
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1797
StatePublished - Oct 29 2014


  • Animal personality
  • Gene expression
  • Individual differences
  • Novelty seeking
  • Social insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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