Nicholas Kirkerud

Nicholas Kirkerud

IMPRS Doctoral Student

Main Focus

The influence of health state on learning capacity in the honeybee
Honeybees rely on their learning and memory capabilities in order to effectively forage resources for the hive. Several biotic and abiotic factors, ranging from parasites and viral infections to pesticides have been linked to the sudden reduction of honeybee colonies worldwide, and recent studies have indicated that especially a group of insecticides, the neonicotinoids have an impact on honeybee learning and memory processes and behavior by affecting the neurotransmitter systems.
In my project, development of an automatic system for testing the learning abilities of honeybees has been the first step. The methods of this system, as well as performance obtained from healthy honeybees in this test assay were published recently in the journal of frontiers in behavioral neuroscience.
Currently, several experiments are undertaken; where the training and testing protocols, as well as the analyses of the data provided by this system are optimized, so that effects of impaired learning can be identified with as few bees as possible. The acute effect of the widely used neonicotinoid Acetamiprid is currently being investigated in the novel test system. Additionally, I am taking physiological measurements of neural activity in the olfactory network by Calcium imaging to look at short term plasticity effects induced by asynchronous odor mixtures. The bees’ ability to successfully separate between different single components in an odor mixture could be compromised by certain pesticides. These experiments may give vital insight into essential sensory processes and how they are affected by neonicotinoids.

Curriculum Vitae

  • 1984 Born in Bærum, Norway
  • 2003 Abitur in Bærum, Norway
  • 2003-2004 Norwegian army, signal corpse
  • 2005-2006 Film and media production, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
  • 2006-2009 Bachelor in Biology, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
  • 2009-2011 Master in Biology (Neurophysiology), NTNU, Trondheim, Norway
  • since 2011 PhD student, Dept. of Neurobiology, Prof. C. Giovanni Galizia, University of Konstanz, Germany
Go to Editor View