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Professor Alison Mercer

Email alison.mercer@otago.ac.nz

Phone 64-3-479-7961

Professor Alison Mercer.

Teaching

Research Interests

  • The brain and behaviour of honey bees
  • Development genetics
  • The modulatory role of biogenic amines and their contribution to the regulation of neuronal development
  • Olfaction and the central processing of olfactory information
  • Learning and memory

Current Projects

  • Characterization of dopamine receptors in the brain of the honey bee
  • Biogenic amine modulation of central olfactory neurons in the insect brain
  • Queen retinue pheromone: royal manipulation of worker bee brain and behaviour
  • Development of the olfactory pathways in the brain of the honey bee

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Publications

Urlacher, E., Devaud, J.-M., & Mercer, A. R. (2017). C-type allatostatins mimic stress-related effects of alarm pheromone on honey bee learning and memory recall. PLoS ONE, 12(3), e0174321. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174321

Mondet, F., Kim, S. H., de Miranda, J. R., Beslay, D., Le Conte, Y., & Mercer, A. R. (2016). Specific cues associated with honey bee social defence against Varroa destructor infested brood. Scientific Reports, 6, 25444. doi: 10.1038/srep25444

Urlacher, E., Monchanin, C., Rivière, C., Richard, F.-J., Lombardi, C., Michelsen-Heath, S., Hageman, K. J., & Mercer, A. R. (2016). Measurements of chlorpyrifos levels in forager bees and comparison with levels that disrupt honey bee odor-mediated learning under laboratory conditions. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 42(2), 127-138. doi: 10.1007/s10886-016-0672-4

Lagisz, M., Mercer, A. R., de Mouzon, C., Santos, L. L. S., & Nakagawa, S. (2016). Association of amine-receptor DNA sequence variants with associative learning in the honeybee. Behavior Genetics, 46(2), 242-251. doi: 10.1007/s10519-015-9749-z

Iwasaki, J., Barratt, B., Lord, J., Mercer, A., & Dickinson, K. (2016). Do introduced honey bees compete with native bees in New Zealand? Proceedings of the VIII Southern Connection Congress. (pp. 113). Retrieved from http://southernconnection2016.com/congress/abstracts-viii-southern-connection-congress-2016-2/

Chapter in Book - Research

Urlacher, E., Devaud, J.-M., & Mercer, A. R. (2013). Pheromones acting as social signals modulate learning in honeybees. In R. Menzel & P. Benjamin (Eds.), Invertebrate learning and memory. (pp. 442-449). Amsterdam: Academic Press.

Mustard, J. A., Vergoz, V., Mesce, K. A., Klukas, K. A., Beggs, K. T., Geddes, L. H., McQuillan, H. J., & Mercer, A. R. (2012). Dopamine signaling in the bee. In C. G. Galizia, D. Eisenhardt & Giurfa (Eds.), Honeybee neurobiology and behavior: A tribute to Randolf Menzel. (pp. 199-209). Dordrecht, TheNetherlands: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2099-2_16

Mercer, A. R. (2001). The predictable plasticity of honey bees. In C. Shaw & J. McEachern (Eds.), Toward a Theory of Neuroplasticity. (pp. 64-81). Philadelphia, USA: Psychology Press.

Mercer, A. R. (1999). Changing the way we perceive things: Sensory systems modulation. In P. Katz (Ed.), In 'Beyond Neurotransmission: Neuromodulation and its Importance for Information Processing'. (pp. 198-240). New York, USA: Oxford University Press.

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Journal - Research Article

Urlacher, E., Devaud, J.-M., & Mercer, A. R. (2017). C-type allatostatins mimic stress-related effects of alarm pheromone on honey bee learning and memory recall. PLoS ONE, 12(3), e0174321. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174321

Mondet, F., Kim, S. H., de Miranda, J. R., Beslay, D., Le Conte, Y., & Mercer, A. R. (2016). Specific cues associated with honey bee social defence against Varroa destructor infested brood. Scientific Reports, 6, 25444. doi: 10.1038/srep25444

Lagisz, M., Mercer, A. R., de Mouzon, C., Santos, L. L. S., & Nakagawa, S. (2016). Association of amine-receptor DNA sequence variants with associative learning in the honeybee. Behavior Genetics, 46(2), 242-251. doi: 10.1007/s10519-015-9749-z

Urlacher, E., Monchanin, C., Rivière, C., Richard, F.-J., Lombardi, C., Michelsen-Heath, S., Hageman, K. J., & Mercer, A. R. (2016). Measurements of chlorpyrifos levels in forager bees and comparison with levels that disrupt honey bee odor-mediated learning under laboratory conditions. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 42(2), 127-138. doi: 10.1007/s10886-016-0672-4

Iwasaki, J. M., Barratt, B. I. P., Lord, J. M., Mercer, A. R., & Dickinson, K. J. M. (2015). The New Zealand experience of varroa invasion highlights research opportunities for Australia. AMBIO, 44(7), 694-704. doi: 10.1007/s13280-015-0679-z

Mondet, F., Alaux, C., Severac, D., Rohmer, M., Mercer, A. R., & Le Conte, Y. (2015). Antennae hold a key to Varroa-sensitive hygiene behaviour in honey bees. Scientific Reports, 5, 10454. doi: 10.1038/srep10454

Verlinden, H., Vleugels, R., Verdonck, R., Urlacher, E., Vanden Broeck, J., & Mercer, A. (2015). Pharmacological and signalling properties of a D2-like dopamine receptor (Dop3) in Tribolium castaneum. Insect Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 56, 9-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2014.11.002

McQuillan, H. J., Nakagawa, S., & Mercer, A. R. (2014). Juvenile hormone enhances aversive learning performance in 2-day old worker honey bees while reducing their attraction to queen mandibular pheromone. PLoS ONE, 9(11), e112740. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112740

Mondet, F., de Miranda, J. R., Kretzschmar, A., Le Conte, Y., & Mercer, A. R. (2014). On the front line: Quantitative virus dynamics in honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies along a new expansion front of the parasite Varroa destructor. PLoS Pathogens, 10(8), 1004323. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004323

Urlacher, E., Tarr, I. S., & Mercer, A. R. (2014). Social modulation of stress reactivity and learning in young worker honey bees. PLoS ONE, 9(12), e113630. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113630

Geddes, L. H., McQuillan, H. J., Aiken, A., Vergoz, V., & Mercer, A. R. (2013). Steroid hormone (20-hydroxyecdysone) modulates the acquisition of aversive olfactory memories in pollen forager honeybees. Learning & Memory, 20(8), 399-409. doi: 10.1101/lm.030825.113

Verlinden, H., Lismont, E., Bil, M., Urlacher, E., Mercer, A., Vanden Broeck, J., & Huybrechts, R. (2013). Characterisation of a functional allatotropin receptor in the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera, Apidae). General & Comparative Endocrinology, 193, 193-200. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.08.006

Jarriault, D., & Mercer, A. R. (2012). Queen mandibular pheromone: Questions that remain to be resolved. Apidologie, 43(3), 292-307. doi: 10.1007/s13592-011-0117-6

McQuillan, H. J., Nakagawa, S., & Mercer, A. R. (2012). Mushroom bodies of the honeybee brain show cell population-specific plasticity in expression of amine-receptor genes. Learning & Memory, 19(4), 151-158. doi: 10.1101/lm.025353.111

McQuillan, H. J., Barron, A. B., & Mercer, A. R. (2012). Age- and behaviour-related changes in the expression of biogenic amine receptor genes in the antennae of honey bees (Apis mellifera). Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 198(10), 753-761. doi: 10.1007/s00359-012-0745-y

Ellen, C. W., & Mercer, A. R. (2012). Modulatory actions of dopamine and serotonin on insect antennal lobe neurons: Insights from studies in vitro. Journal of Molecular Histology, 43(4), 401-404. doi: 10.1007/s10735-012-9401-7

Beggs, K. T., Tyndall, J. D. A., & Mercer, A. R. (2011). Honey bee dopamine and octopamine receptors linked to intracellular calcium signaling have a close phylogenetic and pharmacological relationship. PLoS ONE, 6(11), e26809. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026809

Wass, R., Harland, T., & Mercer, A. (2011). Scaffolding critical thinking in the zone of proximal development. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(3), 317-328. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2010.489237

Mondet, F., Goodwin, M., & Mercer, A. (2011). Age-related changes in the behavioural response of honeybees to Apiguard®, a thymol-based treatment used to control the mite Varroa destructor. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 197(11), 1055-1062. doi: 10.1007/s00359-011-0666-1

Beggs, K. T., & Mercer, A. R. (2009). Dopamine receptor activation by honey bee queen pheromone. Current Biology, 19(14), 1206-1209. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.05.051

Vergoz, V., McQuillan, H. J., Geddes, L. H., Pullar, K., Nicholson, B. J., Paulin, M. G., & Mercer, A. R. (2009). Peripheral modulation of worker bee responses to queen mandibular pheromone. PNAS, 106(49), 20930-20935. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907563106

Mercer, A. R. (2008). A bee-line into learning and memory mechanisms. Cellular & Molecular Life Sciences, 65(22), 3521-3524.

Kloppenburg, P., & Mercer, A. R. (2008). Serotonin modulation of moth central olfactory neurons. Annual Review of Entomology, 53, 179-190. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.53.103106.093408

Carrington, E., Kokay, I. C., Duthie, J., Lewis, R., & Mercer, A. R. (2007). Manipulating the light/dark cycle: Effects on dopamine levels in optic lobes of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) brain. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 193(2), 167-180.

Beggs, K. T., Glendining, K. A., Marechal, N. M., Vergoz, V., Nakamura, I., Slessor, K. N., & Mercer, A. R. (2007). Queen pheromone modulates brain dopamine function in worker honey bees. PNAS, 104(7), 2460-2464.

Vergoz, V., Schreurs, H. A., & Mercer, A. R. (2007). Queen pheromone blocks aversive learning in young worker bees. Science, 317, 384-386.

Perk, C. G., & Mercer, A. R. (2006). Dopamine modulation of honey bee (Apis mellifera) antennal-lobe neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology, 95, 1147-1157.

The Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium, including Beggs, K. T., Mercer, A. R., Dearden, P. K., & Wilson, M. J. (2006). Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Nature, 443, 931-949.

Mercer, A. R., Kloppenburg, P., & Hildebrand, J. G. (2005). Plateau potentials in developing antennal-lobe neurons of the moth, Manduca sexta. Journal of Neurophysiology, 93, 1949-1958.

Beggs, K. T., Hamilton, I. S., Kurshan, P. T., Mustard, J. A., & Mercer, A. R. (2005). Characterization of a D2-like dopamine receptor (AmDOP3) in honey bee, Apis mellifera. Insect Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, 35, 873-882.

Mustard, J. A., Beggs, K. T., & Mercer, A. R. (2005). Molecular biology of the invertebrate dopamine receptors. Archives of Insect Biochemistry & Physiology, 59(3), 103-117.

Mustard, J. A., Kurshan, P. T., Hamilton, I. S., Blenau, W., & Mercer, A. R. (2005). Developmental expression of a tyramine receptor gene in the brain of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 483, 66-75.

Brown, S. M., Napper, R. M., & Mercer, A. R. (2004). Foraging experience, glomerulus volume, and synapse number: A stereological study of the honey bee antennal lobe. Journal of Neurobiology, 60, 40-50.

Mustard, J. A., Blenau, W., Hamilton, I. S., Ward, V. K., Ebert, P. R., & Mercer, A. R. (2003). Analysis of two D1-like dopamine receptors from the honey bee Apis mellifera reveals agonist-independent activity. Molecular Brain Research, 113, 67-77.

Humphries, M., Mustard, J. A., Hunter, S. J., Mercer, A. R., Ward, V. K., & Ebert, P. R. (2003). Invertebrate D2 type dopamine receptor exhibits age-based plasticity of expression in the mushroom bodies of the honeybee brain. Journal of Neurobiology, 55, 315-330.

Kurshan, P. T., Hamilton, I. S., Mustard, J. A., & Mercer, A. R. (2003). Developmental changes in expression patterns of two dopamine receptor genes in mushroom bodies of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 466, 91-103.

Mercer, A. R., & Hildebrand, J. G. (2002). Developmental changes in the electrophysiological properties and response characteristics of Manduca antennal-lobe neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology, 87, 2650-2663.

Mercer, A. R., & Hildebrand, J. G. (2002). Developmental changes in the density of ionic currents in antennal-lobe neurons of the sphinx moth, Manduca sexta. Journal of Neurophysiology, 87, 2664-2675.

Brown, S. M., Napper, R. M. A., Thompson, C. M., & Mercer, A. R. (2002). Stereological analysis reveals striking differences in the structural plasticity of two readily identifiable glomeruli in the antennal lobes of the adult worker honeybee. Journal of Neuroscience, 22, 8514-8522.

McPartland, J., Di Marzo, V., De Petrocellis, L., Mercer, A. R., & Glass, M. (2001). Cannabinoid receptors absent in insects. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 436, 423-429.

Purnell, M. T., Mitchell, C. J., Taylor, D. J., Kokay, I. C., & Mercer, A. R. (2000). The influence of endogenous dopamine levels on the density of [3H]SCH23390-binding sites in the brain of the honey bee, Apis mellifera L. Brain Research, 855, 206-216.

Brown, S. M., Napper, R. M. A., & Mercer, A. R. (2000). Analysis of structure plasticity in the honey bee brain using the Cavalieri estimator of volume and the disector method. Image Analysis & Stereology, 19(2), 139-144. doi: 10.5566/ias.v19.p139-144

Brown, S. M., Napper, R. M. A., & Mercer, A. R. (2000). Structural plasticity in the antennal lobes of the worker honey bee, Apis mellifera. Image Analysis & Stereology, 19, 139-144.

Kirchhof, B. S., Homberg, U., & Mercer, A. R. (1999). Development of dopamine-immunoreactive neurons associated with the antennal lobes of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 411, 643-653.

Kloppenburg, P., Ferns, D., & Mercer, A. R. (1999). Serotonin enhances central olfactory neuron responses to female sex pheromones in the male sphinx moth, Manduca sexta. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 8172-8181.

Kokay, I. C., Ebert, P. R., Kirchhof, B. S., & Mercer, A. R. (1999). Distribution of dopamine receptors and dopamine receptor homologs in the brain of the honeybee, Apis mellifera L. Microscopy Research & Technique, 44, 179-189.

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