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J Insect Physiol. 2005 Nov;51(11):1244-54. Epub 2005 Sep 23.

Maturation of odor representation in the honeybee antennal lobe.

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Center for Visual Sciences, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.


The antennal lobe (AL) is the first center for processing odors in the insect brain, as is the olfactory bulb (OB) in vertebrates. Both the AL and the OB have a characteristic glomerular structure; odors sensed by olfactory receptor neurons are represented by patterns of glomerular activity. Little is known about when and how an odor begins to be perceived in a developing brain. We address this question by using calcium imaging to monitor odor-evoked neural activity in the ALs of bees of different ages. We find that odor-evoked neural activity already occurs in the ALs of bees as young as 1 or 2 days. In young bees, the responses to odors are relatively weak and restricted to a small number of glomeruli. However, different odors already evoke responses in different combinations of glomeruli. In mature bees, the responses are stronger and are evident in more glomeruli, but continue to have distinct odor-dependent signatures. Our findings indicate that the specific glomerular patterns for odors are conserved during the development, and that odor representations are fully developed in the AL during the first 2 weeks following emergence.

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