Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/2012
Publication Date: 6/1/2012
Citation: Vander Meer, R.K. 2012. Ants: the supreme soil manipulators. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 38:728-745. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: This review focuses on the semiochemical interactions between ants and their soil environment. Ants occupy virtually every ecological niche and have evolved mechanisms to not just cope with, but also manipulate soil organisms. The metapleural gland, specific to ants was thought to be the major source of semiochemical antimicrobial compounds targeting general or specific deleterious microbes. The extremely diverse variety of semiochemicals with real or potential antimicrobial activity is highlighted. The leaf-cutting ants and fire ant provide the most researched species because they cause highly significant economic damage. The leaf-cutting ant is particularly interesting because researchers have uncovered unexpected interactions between leaf-cutting ant fungal farm, parasitic fungi, bacteria, and ant defensive semiochemicals. These complex relationships highlight the multidimensional aspects of ants and the soil environment in which they live.