Doctor of Philosophy, Hebrew University Of Jerusalem (2011)
Bachelor of Science, Hebrew University Of Jerusalem (2004)
Luis de Lecea, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Circadian rhythms in behaviour and physiology are important for animal health and survival. Studies with individually isolated animals in the laboratory have consistently emphasized the dominant role of light for the entrainment of circadian rhythms to relevant environmental cycles. Although in nature interactions with conspecifics are functionally significant, social signals are typically not considered important time-givers for the animal circadian clock. Our results challenge this view. By studying honeybees in an ecologically relevant context and using a massive data set, we demonstrate that social entrainment can be potent, may act without direct contact with other individuals and does not rely on gating the exposure to light. We show for the first time that social time cues stably entrain the clock, even in animals experiencing conflicting photic and social environmental cycles. These findings add to the growing appreciation for the importance of studying circadian rhythms in ecologically relevant contexts.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms11662
View details for PubMedID 27210069
One of the most important and evolutionarily conserved roles of sleep is the processing and consolidation of information acquired during wakefulness. In both insects and mammals, environmental and social stimuli can modify sleep physiology and behavior, yet relatively little is known about the specifics of the wake experiences and their relative contribution to experience-dependent modulation of sleep. Honey bees provide an excellent model system in this regard because their behavioral repertoire is well characterized and the environment they experience during the day can be manipulated while keeping an ecologically and sociobiologically relevant context. We examined whether social experience modulates sleep in honey bees, and evaluated the relative contribution of different social signals. We exposed newly emerged bees to different components of their natural social environment and then monitored their sleep behavior in individual cages in a constant lab environment. We found that rich waking experience modulates subsequent sleep. Bees that experienced the colony environment for 1 or 2 days slept more than same-age sister bees that were caged individually or in small groups in the lab. Furthermore, bees placed in mesh-enclosures in the colony, that prevented direct contact with nestmates, slept similarly to bees freely moving in the colony. These results suggest that social signals that do not require direct or close distance interactions between bees are sufficiently rich to encompass almost the entire effect of the colony on sleep. Our findings provide a remarkable example of social experience-dependent modulation of an essential biological process.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.110619
View details for Web of Science ID 000349404300017
View details for PubMedID 25524987
Optogenetic tools have revolutionized the field of neuroscience, and brought the study of neural circuits to a higher level. Optogenetics has significantly improved our understanding not only of the neuronal connections and function of the healthy brain, but also of the neuronal changes that lead to psychiatric disorders. In this review, we summarize recent optogenetic studies that explored different brain circuits involved in natural behaviors, such as sleep and arousal, reward, fear, and social and aggressive behavior. In addition, we describe how alterations in these circuits may lead to psychiatric disorders such as addiction, anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.conb.2013.03.007
View details for Web of Science ID 000320750000020
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers emerge from the pupae with no circadian rhythms in behavior or brain clock gene expression but show strong rhythms later in life. This postembryonic development of circadian rhythms is reminiscent of that of infants of humans and other primates but contrasts with most insects, which typically emerge from the pupae with strong circadian rhythms. Very little is known about the internal and external factors regulating the ontogeny of circadian rhythms in bees or in other animals. We tested the hypothesis that the environment during early life influences the later expression of circadian rhythms in locomotor activity in young honey bees. We reared newly emerged bees in various social environments, transferred them to individual cages in constant laboratory conditions, and monitored their locomotor activity. We found that the percentage of rhythmic individuals among bees that experienced the colony environment for their first 48 h of adult life was similar to that of older sister foragers, but their rhythms were weaker. Sister bees isolated individually in the laboratory for the same period were significantly less likely to show circadian rhythms in locomotor activity. Bees experiencing the colony environment for only 24 h, or staying for 48 h with 30 same-age sister bees in the laboratory, were similar to bees individually isolated in the laboratory. By contrast, bees that were caged individually or in groups in single- or double-mesh enclosures inside a field colony were as likely to exhibit circadian rhythms as their sisters that were freely moving in the same colony. These findings suggest that the development of the circadian system in young adult honey bees is faster in the colony than in isolation. Direct contact with the queen, workers, or the brood, contact pheromones, and trophallaxis, which are all important means of communication in honey bees, cannot account for the influence of the colony environment, since they were all withheld from the bees in the double-mesh enclosures. Our results suggest that volatile pheromones, the colony microenvironment, or both influence the ontogeny of circadian rhythms in honey bees.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0748730412440851
View details for Web of Science ID 000304715700004
View details for PubMedID 22653890
The diverse social lifestyle and the small and accessible nervous system of insects make them valuable for research on the adaptive value and the organization principles of circadian rhythms and sleep. We focus on two complementary model insects, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, which is amenable to extensive transgenic manipulations, and the honey bee Apis mellifera, which has rich and well-studied social behaviors. Social entrainment of activity rhythms (social synchronization) has been studied in many animals. Social time givers appear to be specifically important in dark cavity-dwelling social animals, but here there are no other clear relationships between the degree of sociality and the effectiveness of social entrainment. The olfactory system is important for social entrainment in insects. Little is known, however, about the molecular and neuronal pathways linking olfactory neurons to the central clock. In the honey bee, the expression, phase, and development of circadian rhythms are socially regulated, apparently by different signals. Peripheral clocks regulating pheromone synthesis and the olfactory system have been implicated in social influences on circadian rhythms in the fruit fly. An enriched social environment increases the total amount of sleep in both fruit flies and honey bees. In fruit flies, these changes have been linked to molecular and neuronal processes involved in learning, memory, and synaptic plasticity. The studies on insects suggest that social influences on the clock are richer than previously appreciated and have led to important breakthroughs in our understanding of the mechanisms underlying social influences on sleep and circadian rhythms.
View details for DOI 10.1016/B9780-0-12-387687-4.00001-5
View details for Web of Science ID 000310242200001
View details for PubMedID 22902124
Unlike most animals studied so far in which the activity with no circadian rhythms is pathological or linked to deteriorating performance, worker bees and ants naturally care for their sibling brood around the clock with no apparent ill effects. Here, we tested whether bumble-bee queens that care alone for their first batch of offspring are also capable of a similar chronobiological plasticity. We monitored locomotor activity of Bombus terrestris queens at various life cycle stages, and queens for which we manipulated the presence of brood or removed the ovaries. We found that gynes typically emerged from the pupae with no circadian rhythms, but after several days showed robust rhythms that were not affected by mating or diapauses. Colony-founding queens with brood showed attenuated circadian rhythms, irrespective of the presence of ovaries. By contrast, queens that lost their brood switched again to activity with strong circadian rhythms. The discovery that circadian rhythms in bumble-bee queens are regulated by the life cycle and the presence of brood suggests that plasticity in the circadian clock of bees is ancient and related to maternal behaviour or physiology, and is not a derived trait that evolved with the evolution of the worker caste.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2011.0579
View details for Web of Science ID 000296579800007
View details for PubMedID 21508036
The social environment influences the circadian clock of diverse animals, but little is known about the functional significance, the specifics of the social signals, or the dynamics of socially mediated changes in the clock. Honey bees switch between activities with and without circadian rhythms according to their social task. Forager bees have strong circadian rhythms, whereas "nurse" bees typically care for the brood around-the-clock with no circadian rhythms in behavior or clock gene expression. Here we show that nurse-age bees that were restricted to a broodless comb inside or outside the hive showed robust behavioral and molecular circadian rhythms. By contrast, young nurses tended brood with no circadian rhythms in behavior or clock gene expression, even under a light-dark illumination regime or when placed with brood--but no queen--in a small cage outside the hive. This behavior is context-dependent because nurses showed circadian rhythms in locomotor activity shortly after removal from the hive, and in clock gene expression after ?16 h. These findings suggest that direct interaction with the brood modulates the circadian system of honey bees. The dynamics of rhythm development best fit models positing that at least some pacemakers continue to oscillate and be entrained by the environment in nurses that are active around the clock. These cells set the phase to the clock network when the nurse is removed from the hive. These findings suggest that despite its robustness, the circadian system exhibits profound plasticity, enabling adjustment to rapid changes in the social environment.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1490-10.2010
View details for Web of Science ID 000281798700029
View details for PubMedID 20844146
Honeybee (Apis mellifera) foragers are among the first invertebrates for which sleep behavior has been described. Foragers (typically older than 21 days) have strong circadian rhythms; they are active during the day, and sleep during the night. We explored whether young bees (approximately 3 days of age), which are typically active around-the-clock with no circadian rhythms, also exhibit sleep behavior. We combined 24-hour video recordings, detailed behavioral observations, and analyses of response thresholds to a light pulse for individually housed bees in various arousal states. We characterized three sleep stages in foragers on the basis of differences in body posture, bout duration, antennae movements and response threshold. Young bees exhibited sleep behavior consisting of the same three stages as observed in foragers. Sleep was interrupted by brief awakenings, which were as frequent in young bees as in foragers. Beyond these similarities, we found differences in the sleep architecture of young bees and foragers. Young bees passed more frequently between the three sleep stages, and stayed longer in the lightest sleep stage than foragers. These differences in sleep architecture may represent developmental and/or environmentally induced variations in the neuronal network underlying sleep in honeybees. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first evidence for plasticity in sleep behavior in insects.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.016915
View details for Web of Science ID 000257620300014
View details for PubMedID 18626074