Collective Behaviour - Summer Seminar Series 2021

Neurochemical signatures in social insect behavior: what mass spectrometry can tell us

Divya Ramesh, University of Konstanz

This event is part of an event series „CASCB Seminar Series“

Divya Ramesh is a Research Fellow at the University of Konstanz, where she is studying the effect of conspecifics on individual behavior. She is establishing quantitative targeted mass spectrometry of neuroactive amines in insect brains focusing on ants, honey bees and bumblebees in the context of aggression and thermoregulation.

Neurochemical signatures in social insect behavior: what mass spectrometry can tell us

Unlike Drosophila, social insects have yet to reach the stage where individuals can be manipulated at the level of neurons. Thus, their behaviour and neurobiology needs to be inferred by other crude ways. The social behaviours of these insects can so far only be studied by post-mortem analyses of neural activity, or by quantifying neuromodulator concentration changes, followed by pharmacological manipulations. Most of these studies tend to focus on a handful of well-known modulators like dopamine, octopamine and serotonin. We know, however, that neurons have receptors for many modulators, and a single behaviour can be influenced to varying degrees by different compounds. What we need to be looking at is the neurochemical signatures of behaviour. How does one go from looking at one molecule to many?

Mass spectrometry is an analytical method that uses the mass and charge of a molecule to identify it. This makes it possible for many 100s of compounds to be detected, identified, and quantified from a single sample. In this talk, I will introduce a mass spectrometric method I developed as a tool to study individual variation in social behaviour. I will also show some results from my previous work as well as what I would like to do in the future using such complex data.

Datum: 2021-06-21