Task-Related Phasing of Circadian Rhythms in Antennal Responsiveness to Odorants and Pheromones in Honeybees

Moshe Nagari*, Paul Szyszka, Giovanni Galizia, Guy Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The insect antennae receive olfactory information from the environment. In some insects, it has been shown that antennal responsiveness is dynamically regulated by circadian clocks. However, it is unknown how general this phenomenon is and what functions it serves. Circadian regulation in honeybee workers is particularly interesting in this regard because they show natural task-related chronobiological plasticity. Forager bees show strong circadian rhythms in behavior and brain gene expression, whereas nurse bees tend brood around-the-clock and have attenuated circadian rhythms in activity and whole-brain gene expression. Here, we tested the hypothesis that there is task-related plasticity in circadian rhythms of antennal responsiveness to odorants in worker honeybees. We used electroantennogram (EAG) to measure the antennal responsiveness of nurses and foragers to general odorants and pheromones around the day. The capacity to track 10-Hz odorant pulses varied with time of day for both task groups but with different phases. The antennal pulse-tracking capacity was higher during the subjective day for the day-active foragers, whereas it was better during the night for around-the-clock active nurses. The task-related phases of pulse-tracking rhythms were similar for all the tested stimuli. We also found evidence for circadian rhythms in the EAG response magnitude of foragers but not of nurses. To the best of our knowledge, these results provide the first evidence for circadian regulation of antennal olfactory responsiveness and odorant pulse-tracking capacity in bees or any other hymenopteran insect. Importantly, our study shows for the first time that the circadian phase of olfactory responsiveness may be socially regulated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)593-608
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 The Author(s).


  • antenna
  • circadian
  • division of labor
  • electroantennogram
  • honeybee
  • insect
  • odorants
  • olfaction
  • pheromones
  • pulse tracking


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