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Olfactory detectability of l-amino acids in the European honeybee (Apis mellifera)

Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 631-638
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Chemical Senses
Volym: 37
Nummer: 7
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Oxford University Press


The honeybee is one of several insect model systems for the study of olfaction, yet our knowledge regarding the spectrum of odorants detectable by Apis mellifera is limited. One class of odorants that has never been tested so far are the amino acids, which are important constituents of floral nectar. Using the proboscis extension response paradigm, we assessed whether the odor of amino acids is detectable for honeybees and determined olfactory detection thresholds for those amino acids that were detectable. We found that honeybees are able to detect the odor of 5 of the 20 proteinogenic amino acids when presented at a concentration of 50 or 100 mM. Median olfactory detection thresholds for these 5 amino acids were 12.5 mM with L-tyrosine and L-cysteine, 50 mM with L-tryptophan and L-asparagine, and 100 mM with L-proline. All detection thresholds were much higher than reported concentrations of amino acids in floral nectars. We conclude that in the foraging and feeding context, honeybees are likely to detect amino acids through taste rather than olfaction. Across-species comparisons of the detectability of and sensitivity to amino acids suggest that the number of functional genes coding for olfactory receptors may affect both a species' sensitivity for odorants and the breadth of its spectrum of detectable odorants.

© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Zoology
  • Amino acids
  • Apis mellifera
  • Detection
  • Honeybee
  • Olfaction
  • Sensitivity


  • ISSN: 1464-3553

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