Neuroscience of honeybee behavior
Supervisor: Giovanni Galizia, Universität Konstanz
Insects play crucial roles in pollination of the world’s crops. Yet insect populations are on decline, partially due to pesticide-intensive agriculture and diseases. While insects have no adaptive immune system, eusocial insects like honeybees, exert social immunity as part of maintaining hive hygiene. We are seeking for the causal molecular underpinnings of olfaction driving social immunity in response to hive infestation. In this project, you will study honeybee behavior as response to disease odorants, and the coding of these odorants in the honeybee brain. The key techniques used are in-vivo brain imaging (calcium imaging), learning and memory behavioral experiments, and computational data analysis.
The project is part of a collaborations with research groups in Denmark and in the USA, in which we join expertise in entomology, synthetic biology, and chemistry to test the working hypothesis that the evolution of social immunity in honeybees is controlled by olfaction. In the consortium, we will search bacterial and honeybee cues causal to recognizing infected sisters, by i) testing bacterial metagenomic libraries against honeybee olfactory receptors (ORs) expressed in a microbial olfaction platform, ii) perform metabolite profiling of honeybee glands to search for communication cues correlating with SI, and, iii) test glands in bioassays, brain activity and bee behavior.
You should be interested and/or have a background in animal behavior, olfactory coding, neuroscience, optical imaging, computational neuroscience, insect studies – not all of these, or course: the missing ones you will be trained on. Strong written and oral communication skills in English are necessary.
The Universität Konstanz and the Max Planck Society are equal opportunity employers that are committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability. They seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women to apply (Equal opportunity). Persons with disabilities are explicitly encouraged to apply.
They will be given preference if appropriately qualified (contact +49 7531 88 4016).