Dr Jennifer Scott

Research Interests

Honeybees and bumblebees obtain their nutritional requirements from forging on the nectar and pollen of plants. Interestingly, these food sources have been shown to contain psychoactive substances such as caffeine and nicotine, as well as a range of agricultural chemicals such as neonicotinoid pesticides. Research from the Wright laboratory has identified that these chemicals function to alter the bees percept of reward. For instance, both honeybees and bumblebees have been shown to prefer sugar solutions that contain neonicotinoid pesticides in comparison to sugar solutions alone. In addition, sugar solutions that contain caffeine have been shown to increase the honeybees memory of reward. This suggests that these chemicals are capable of interfering with the bees reward circuity, perhaps indicating an ability to function in an ‘addictive-like’ manner in these insects. I use a combination of molecular, electrophysiological, and behavioural techniques to study the addictive-like potential of these chemicals in both honeybees and bumblebees. 

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