CIE Seminar Series – 2021: Neuropeptide sNPF modulates appetitive behaviour of honey bees

SPEAKER: Louise Bestea, Research Center of Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, University Paul Sabatier, France.


DATE & TIME: Thursday, 12th August 2021 @ 4:00PM.

LOCATION: Seminar to be streamed via Zoom. Click HERE to connect (Meeting ID: 896 4639 8370, Password: 17316097).

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In mammals, feeding behaviour is modulated by several neuropeptides such as the neuropeptide Y (NPY), which in higher concentrations enhances food intake. In the honey bee (Apis mellifera), two independent homologs of NPY, the neuropeptide F (NPF) and the short neuropeptide F (sNPF), have been identified but only the latter has a coupled receptor (sNPFR).

A functional link exists between sNPF signaling and feeding behavior under conditions of starvation in isolated foragers: a reduction of the transcript levels of sNPFR by RNAi alters the perception of the satiation state in starved bees, which then behave like their fed counterparts. Conversely, sNPF topical application triggers food intake in fed bees. Besides, sNPF also modulates sensory perception prior to ingestion.

Topical application of sNPF increases, therefore, sucrose responsiveness and spontaneous responses to appetitive odors at the individual level. Multiphoton recordings of neural activity in the antennal lobe, the primary olfactory center of the bee brain, revealed that fed animals exhibit a decreased responsiveness to appetitive odors that is rescued by treatment with sNPF to the level exhibited by starved bees.

Given the enhancing effect of sNPF on sucrose responsiveness, we then studied if this effect translates to appetitive learning and memory. Starved bees performed better than fed untreated bees.

Treating fed bees with sNPF improved their memory retention to the level of starved bees. Therefore, sNPF acts as a modulator of sensory perception which in turn influences cognitive abilities of bees.


During the 2nd year of my Masters I studied pollinator effectiveness in South Africa and took part in various conservation work with the NGO Nature’s Valley Trust.

I am now a 3rd year PhD student at the Research Centre of Animal Cognition (Toulouse, France) working on honey bees’ behaviour (and about to hand in my thesis manuscript).

My PhD work focuses on the effect of the short neuropeptide sNPF to understand how it modulates hunger state of forager bees, thus food-related behaviours. We used different approaches such as pharmacology, behavioural experiments, electrophysiology and multiphoton imaging to unravel the influence of sNPF on food-decision making.

For more information click HERE (Twitter).

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Thanking you in advance!

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