A conserved fertility signal despite population variation in the cuticular chemical profile of the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus brunneus

Adrian A. Smith, Jocelyn G. Millar, Lawrence M Hanks, Andrew Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Contact pheromones in the form of cuticular hydrocarbons are widespread among insects. Eusocial insects present a special challenge for understanding the evolution of the cuticular hydrocarbon profile because this blend is responsible for multiple distinct roles such as nestmate recognition and signalling fertility status. This study investigates these two signalling roles of the hydrocarbon profile in the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus brunneus. We demonstrate that the cuticular hydrocarbon profile is highly variable across populations and provide evidence that these differences are used for nestmate discrimination. Through manipulative experiments we also show that (Z)-9-nonacosene (Z9:C29) is used as a fertility signal and its role is conserved across populations. Our data demonstrate that both fertility and nestmate signalling influence the cuticular hydrocarbon profile and specifically the relative abundance of Z9:C29 on the cuticle of O. brunneus. Our study suggests that natural selection works on the cuticular chemical profile through multiple regulatory pathways, diversifying nestmate signals while conserving fertility signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3917-3924
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume216
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

Fingerprint

Odontomachus brunneus
Ants
Hydrocarbons
Jaw
jaws
ant
Fertility
hydrocarbons
fertility
Formicidae
traps
hydrocarbon
Population
Insects
nestmate recognition
insect
insects
Genetic Selection
Pheromones
cuticle

Keywords

  • Cuticular hydrocarbons
  • Fertility signal
  • Nestmate recognition
  • Phenotypic variation
  • Pheromone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science

Cite this

A conserved fertility signal despite population variation in the cuticular chemical profile of the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus brunneus. / Smith, Adrian A.; Millar, Jocelyn G.; Hanks, Lawrence M; Suarez, Andrew.

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 216, No. 20, 01.10.2013, p. 3917-3924.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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