Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer studies the brain and behaviour of honey bees. Her research interests include developmental genetics, biogenic amines and neuronal development, olfaction, and learning and memory. Current research projects are looking at the characterization of dopamine receptors in the brain of the honey bee, queen retinue pheromone and the royal manipulation of worker bee brain. The behaviour and the development and modulation of the olfactory pathways in the brain of the honey bee is another area of interest.
What do bees have to do with brains? “Bees are highly social animals with a sophisticated pheromonal communication system and an extraordinarily rich behavioural repertoire, all of which we can leverage to ask interesting questions about brain function."
Mondet, F., Blanchard, S., Barthes, N., Beslay, D., Bordier, C., Costagliola, G., … Kim, S. H., … Mercer, A. R., & Le Conte, Y. (2021). Chemical detection triggers honey bee defense against a destructive parasitic threat. Nature Chemical Biology, 17, 524-530. doi: 10.1038/s41589-020-00720-3
Iwasaki, J. M., Barratt, B. I. P., Jandt, J. M., Jowett, T. W. D., Lord, J. M., Mercer, A. R., & Dickinson, K. J. M. (2020). Honey bees do not displace foraging bumble bees on nectar-rich artificial flowers. Apidologie, 51, 137-146. doi: 10.1007/s13592-019-00690-z
Kim, S. H., Mercer, A., Mitchell, A., de Miranda, J. R., Ward, V., Mondet, F., & Bostina, M. (2019). Viral infections alter antennal epithelium ultrastructure in honey bees. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 168, 107252. doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2019.107252
Urlacher, E., Devaud, J.-M., & Mercer, A. R. (2019). Changes in responsiveness to allatostatin treatment accompany shifts in stress reactivity in young worker honey bees. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 205, 51-59. doi: 10.1007/s00359-018-1302-0
Jarriault, D., Fuller, J., Hyland, B. I., & Mercer, A. R. (2018). Dopamine release in mushroom bodies of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) in response to aversive stimulation. Scientific Reports, 8, 16277. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34460-1