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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fire Ant Cuticular Hydrocarbons: A research tool and nestmate recognition cues?

item Vander Meer, Robert - Bob
item Choi, Man-yeon
item Anderson, James

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/17/2008
Publication Date: 9/23/2008
Citation: Vander Meer, R.K., Choi, M.Y., Anderson, J. 2008. Fire Ant Cuticular Hydrocarbons: A research tool and nestmate recognition cues?. Meeting Abstract.International Society of Chemical Ecology. Paper No. 139.

Interpretive Summary: NA

Technical Abstract: Social insects utilize complex pheromone systems to maintain sociality and, in the case of most ant species, colony integrity. Colony integrity is expressed as nestmate recognition, where colony members can discriminate between nestmates and conspecific non-nestmates by matching an experience based neural template of their colony odor with the cues detected on the cuticle of an intruder. If the cues and template do not match, e.g. a non-nestmate intruder, then aggression occurs. There is a large body of correlative data linking nestmate recognition and cuticular hydrocarbons, but little evidence of direct cuticular hydrocarbon involvement. Multivariate analyses of hydrocarbon patterns can differentiate one colony from another; however, it is not clear if the ants can also differentiate colonies based on cuticular hydrocarbons. We present here a review of the use of fire ant cuticular hydrocarbons as models for heritable nestmate recognition cues and as tools for monitoring movement of cuticular hydrocarbons in a colony. We then describe a new method for putting physiologically relevant amounts of treatment hydrocarbons on the cuticle of workers, which we used to evaluate the role of hydrocarbons in fire ant nestmate recognition.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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