BEES CAN DISCRIMINATE ‘NORMAL’ SMELL MOLECULES FROM DEUTERATED SMELL MOLECULES

picture of Karina Loyola presenting his/her poster: BEES CAN DISCRIMINATE ‘NORMAL’ SMELL MOLECULES FROM DEUTERATED SMELL MOLECULES

Karina Loyola , Wulfila Gronenberg

BEES CAN DISCRIMINATE ‘NORMAL’ SMELL MOLECULES FROM DEUTERATED SMELL MOLECULES

A recent hypothesis of how smell – olfactory – nerve cells in any animal’s olfactory system work, suggests that the large olfactory receptor proteins in the nose in an animal are tuned to certain molecular vibrations of the smaller smell molecules – known as odorants. This hypothesis predicts that animals should be able to discriminate a normal odorant from a deuterated odorant, in which hydrogen atoms in the normal odorant are replaced by the heavier deuterium atoms in the deuterated odorant. I tested this hypothesis in honey bees by training them to discriminate odor pairs, – a normal and deuterated compound – using classical conditioning in which the bees are rewarded with sugar in the presence of the odorant they are taught. My results show that honey bees can learn to discriminate a deuterated compound from normal odorants and therefore, these results support the “vibrational theory” of smell.

 

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (IOB-0519483 grant to WG).

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