Honey bees can form distinct spatiotemporal memories that allow them to return repeatedly to different food sources at different times of day. Although it is becoming increasingly clear that different behavioral states are associated with different profiles of brain gene expression, it is not known whether this relationship extends to states that are as dynamic and specific as those associated with foraging-related spatiotemporal memories. We tested this hypothesis by training different groups of foragers from the same colony to collect sucrose solution from one of two artificial feeders; each feeder was in a different location and had sucrose available at a different time, either in the morning or afternoon. Bees from both training groups were collected at both the morning and afternoon training times to result in one set of bees that was undergoing stereotypical food anticipatory behavior and another that was inactive for each time of day. Between the two groups with the different spatiotemporal memories, microarray analysis revealed that 1329 genes were differentially expressed in the brains of honey bees. Many of these genes also varied with time of day, time of training or state of food anticipation. Some of these genes are known to be involved in a variety of biological processes, including metabolism and behavior. These results indicate that distinct spatiotemporal foraging memories in honey bees are associated with distinct neurogenomic signatures, and the decomposition of these signatures into sets of genes that are also influenced by time or activity state hints at the modular composition of this complex neurogenomic phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-987
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Appetitive behavior
  • Circadian
  • Honey bee
  • Memory
  • Microarray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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