Octopamine (OA) and juvenile hormone (JH) are implicated in the regulation of age-based division of labor in the honeybee, Apis mellifera. We tested the hypothesis that these two neuroendocrine signals influence task-associated plasticity in circadian and diurnal rhythms, and in brain expression of the clock gene period (per). Treatment with OA, OA antagonist (epinastine), or both, did not affect the age at onset of circadian rhythmicity or the free running period in constant darkness (DD). Young bees orally treated with OA in light-dark (LD) illumination regime for 6 days followed by DD showed reduced alpha (the period between the daily onset and offset of activity) during the first 4 days in LD and the first 4 days in DD. Oral treatment with OA, epinastine, or both, but not manipulations of JH levels, caused increased average daily levels and aberrant patterns of brain per mRNA oscillation in young bees. These results suggest that OA and JH do not influence the development or function of the central pacemaker but rather that OA influences the brain expression of a clock gene and characteristics of locomotor behavior that are not thought to be under direct control of the circadian pacemaker.
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