Secret to honeybees' memory lies in calcium

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Washington, June 16 (ANI): Researchers from the CNRS, the Université de Toulouse and the French Calcium Research Network, have shown that long-term memory formation in honeybees is instigated by a calcium ion cascade.

Writing in the open access journal BMC Biology, the study's boffins have shown that calcium acts as a switch between short- and long-term storage of learned information.

Lead researcher Jean-Christophe Sandoz carried out the neurological honeybee experiments along with his team.

He said, "By modulating the intracellular calcium concentration in the insects' brains, we've been able to demonstrate that, during olfactory conditioning, Ca2+ is both a necessary and a sufficient signal for the formation of protein-dependent long-term memory".

Sandoz and his colleagues studied a learned behaviour in the bees, extension of the proboscis in response to olfactory stimuli associated with food.

Three days after decreasing calcium levels during learning, the bees stopped responding to the odor, and three days after increasing calcium during learning, bees' response to the odor were stronger.

In addition, the researchers found that the increased memory performance in bees induced by increased calcium depended on protein synthesis.

According to Sandoz, "We have found here that the modulation of calcium during learning affects long-term memory specifically while leaving learning and short-term memory intact". (ANI)

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