Benelux Congress of Zoology edition:13 location:Leuven, Belgium date:27 - 28 October 2006
In recent years a cGMP dependant protein kinase (PKG), known as for and found to be expressed in brains of the nematode C. elegans, the fruitfly Drosophila, the honeybee Apis mellifera and the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus, was recognized to have behavioral impact. In general terms, these for gene products are involved in food-seeking behaviour. In bees, enhanced expression directs the transition of nurser behaviour into foraging outside the nest. In the harvester ant for gene expression is higher in nursers compared to foragers. Using the candidate gene approach we cloned and sequenced the foraging gene homologue from brain cDNA of the wasp Vespula vulgaris. Using real time quantitative PCR we compared for gene expression in 4 different field colonies and looked, without success, for clear differences in expression profile between nursers and foragers. In spite of a rather high variation in detected quantities (relative to the housekeeping gene actin) our results tend to suggest that in Vespula vulgaris the change in tasks for the workers is not initiated by a change in for expression. To our surprise, a similar approach revealed the presence of a functional for homologue in the grasshopper Schistocerca gregaria. This observation is tempting to elucidate whether this gene contributes to gregarisation, a process which forces the resulting swarms to find new food resources.