Muscarinic regulation of Kenyon cell dendritic arborizations in adult worker honey bees

Scott E. Dobrin, J. Daniel Herlihy, Gene E. Robinson, Susan E. Fahrbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experience of foraging under natural conditions increases the volume of mushroom body neuropil in worker honey bees. A comparable increase in neuropil volume results from treatment of worker honey bees with pilocarpine, an agonist for muscarinic-type cholinergic receptors. A component of the neuropil growth induced by foraging experience is growth of dendrites in the collar region of the calyces. We show here, via analysis of Golgi-impregnated collar Kenyon cells with wedge arborizations, that significant increases in standard measures of dendritic complexity were also found in worker honey bees treated with pilocarpine. This result suggests that signaling via muscarinic-type receptors promotes the increase in Kenyon cell dendritic complexity associated with foraging. Treatment of worker honey bees with scopolamine, a muscarinic inhibitor, inhibited some aspects of dendritic growth. Spine density on the Kenyon cell dendrites varied with sampling location, with the distal portion of the dendritic field having greater total spine density than either the proximal or medial section. This observation may be functionally significant because of the stratified organization of projections from visual centers to the dendritic arborizations of the collar Kenyon cells. Pilocarpine treatment had no effect on the distribution of spines on dendrites of the collar Kenyon cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-419
Number of pages11
JournalArthropod Structure and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Apis mellifera
  • Dendritic spine
  • Golgi technique
  • Mushroom bodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Insect Science


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