Foragers of several species of stingless bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae and Meliponini) deposit pheromone marks in the vegetation to guide nestmates to new food sources. These pheromones are produced in the labial glands and are nest and species specific. Thus, an important question is how recruited foragers recognize their nestmates' pheromone in the field. We tested whether naïve workers learn a specific trail pheromone composition while being recruited by nestmates inside the hive in the species Scaptotrigona pectoralis. We installed artificial scent trails branching off from trails deposited by recruiting foragers and registered whether newly recruited bees follow these trails. The artificial trails were baited with trail pheromones of workers collected from foreign S. pectoralis colonies. When the same foreign trail pheromone was presented inside the experimental hives while recruitment took place a significant higher number of bees followed the artificial trails than in experiments without intranidal presentation. Our results demonstrate that recruits of S. pectoralis can learn the composition of specific trail pheromone bouquets inside the nest and subsequently follow this pheromone in the field. We, therefore, suggest that trail pheromone recognition in S. pectoralis is based on a flexible learning process rather than being a genetically fixed behaviour.
Thermogenesis is one of the most important homeostatic mechanisms that evolved during vertebrate evolution. Despite its importance for the survival of the organism, the mechanistic details behind various thermogenic processes remain incompletely understood. Although heat production from muscle has long been recognized as a thermogenic mechanism, whether muscle can produce heat independently of contraction remains controversial. Studies in birds and mammals suggest that skeletal muscle can be an important site of non-shivering thermogenesis (NST) and can be recruited during cold adaptation, although unequivocal evidence is lacking. Much research on thermogenesis during the last two decades has been focused on brown adipose tissue (BAT). These studies clearly implicate BAT as an important site of NST in mammals, in particular in newborns and rodents. However, BAT is either absent, as in birds and pigs, or is only a minor component, as in adult large mammals including humans, bringing into question the BAT-centric view of thermogenesis. This review focuses on the evolution and emergence of various thermogenic mechanisms in vertebrates from fish to man. A careful analysis of the existing data reveals that muscle was the earliest facultative thermogenic organ to emerge in vertebrates, long before the appearance of BAT in eutherian mammals. Additionally, these studies suggest that muscle-based thermogenesis is the dominant mechanism of heat production in many species including birds, marsupials, and certain mammals where BAT-mediated thermogenesis is absent or limited. We discuss the relevance of our recent findings showing that uncoupling of sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) by sarcolipin (SLN), resulting in futile cycling and increased heat production, could be the basis for NST in skeletal muscle. The overall goal of this review is to highlight the role of skeletal muscle as a thermogenic organ and provide a balanced view of thermogenesis in vertebrates 59ce067264