Phenotypic plasticity of nest-mate recognition cues in Formica exsecta ants

Martin, Stephen J, Drijfhout, Falko P and Hart, Adam G ORCID: 0000-0002-4795-9986 (2019) Phenotypic plasticity of nest-mate recognition cues in Formica exsecta ants. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 45 (9). pp. 735-740. doi:10.1007/s10886-019-01103-2

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It is well established that many ant species have evolved qualitatively distinct species-specific chemical profile that are stable over large geographical distances. Within these species profiles quantitative variations in the profile allows distinct colony-specific odours to arise (chemotypes) that are shared by all colony members. This help maintains social cohesion, including defence of their colonies against all intruders, including con-specifics. How these colony -level chemotypes are maintained among nest-mates has long been debated. The two main theories are; each ant is able to biochemically adjust its chemical profile to ‘match’ that of its nest-mates and or the queen, or all nest-mates share their individually generated chemical profile via trophollaxis resulting in an average nest-mate profile. This ‘mixing’ idea is better known as the Gestalt model. Unfortunately, it has been very difficult to experimentally test these two ideas in a single experimental design. However, it is now possible using the ant Formica exsecta since the compounds used in nest-mate recognition compounds are known. We demonstrate that workers adjust their profile to 'match' the dominant chemical profile within that colony, hence maintaining the colony-specific chemotype and indicates that a 'gestalt' mechanism, i.e. profile mixing, plays no or only a minor role.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phenotypic Variation; Chemical Plasticity; Gestalt Model
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2019 09:54
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:58

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