Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol ResearchTitle: Oral transfer of chemical cues, growth proteins and hormones in social insects
|LEBOEUF, ADRIA - University Of Lausanne|
|WARIDEL, PATRICE - University Of Lausanne|
|GONCALVES, AQUIME - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais|
|MENIN, L - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne|
|ORTIZ, DANIEL - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne|
|KOTO, AKIKO - University Of Haifa|
|PRIVMAN, EYAL - University Of Tokyo|
|SOARES, ZAMIRA - Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais|
|MISKA, ERIC - University Of Cambridge|
|BENTON, RICHARD - University Of Lausanne|
|KELLER, LAURENT - University Of Lausanne|
Submitted to: eLife
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/2016
Publication Date: 11/29/2016
Citation: Leboeuf, A.C., Waridel, P., Brent, C.S., Goncalves, A.N., Menin, L., Ortiz, D., Koto, A., Privman, E., Soares, Z.G., Miska, E.A., Benton, R., Keller, L. 2016. Oral transfer of chemical cues, growth proteins and hormones in social insects. eLife. 5:e20375. doi:10.7554/eLife.20375.
Interpretive Summary: Social insects frequently engage in oral fluid exchange – trophallaxis – between adults, and between adults and larvae. Although trophallaxis is widely considered a food-sharing mechanism, we hypothesized that endogenous components of this fluid might underlie a novel means of chemical communication between colony members. Through protein and small-molecule mass spectrometry and RNA sequencing, we found that trophallactic fluid in the ant Camponotus floridanus contains a set of specific digestion- and non-digestion related proteins, as well as hydrocarbons, microRNAs, and Juvenile Hormone, an important developmental regulator. When C. floridanus workers’ food was supplemented with this hormone, the larvae they reared via trophallaxis were twice as likely to complete metamorphosis and became larger workers. Comparison of trophallactic fluid proteins across social insect species revealed that many are regulators of growth, development and behavioral maturation. These results suggest that trophallaxis may play a role in communication and enable communal control of colony phenotypes.
Technical Abstract: Social insects frequently engage in oral fluid exchange between members of the same colony. This is often simply food sharing, but may also serve as a means of communicating information that directly influences colony organization. Analysis of the contents of the fluids exchanged by the Florida carpenter ant indicate that in addition to nutrients, the ants are also transferring known regulatory hormones and proteins with the potential to can impact growth, development and behavior. Manipulating the diet of caretaking ants caused them to change the content of the food they provided to immature nestmates. The young ants receiving this diet completed their maturation more quickly and at a higher rate of success. This shows that colony conditions can affect the caretaker ants, and that the caretakers can modify the fluids they provide in a way that reflects this information. Analysis of oral fluids from other social insect species revealed that many have components that are regulators of growth and development. These results raise the possibility that, in addition to its role in food transfer, oral fluid exchanges serve as a mode of communication that enable control of colony member size and function.