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Sample records for leaf-cutting ants atta

  1. Association between Pseudonocardia symbionts and Atta leaf-cutting ants suggested by improved isolation methods.

    PubMed

    Marsh, Sarah E; Poulsen, Michael; Gorosito, Norma B; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián; Masiulionis, Virginia E; Currie, Cameron R

    2013-03-01

    Fungus-growing ants associate with multiple symbiotic microbes, including Actinobacteria for production of antibiotics. The best studied of these bacteria are within the genus Pseudonocardia, which in most fungus-growing ants are conspicuously visible on the external cuticle of workers. However, given that fungus-growing ants in the genus Atta do not carry visible Actinobacteria on their cuticle, it is unclear if this genus engages in the symbiosis with Pseudonocardia. Here we explore whether improving culturing techniques can allow for successful isolation of Pseudonocardia from Atta cephalotes leaf-cutting ants. We obtained Pseudonocardia from 9 of 11 isolation method/colony component combinations from all 5 colonies intensively sampled. The most efficient technique was bead-beating workers in phosphate buffer solution, then plating the suspension on carboxymethylcellulose medium. Placing these strains in a fungus-growing ant-associated Pseudonocardia phylogeny revealed that while some strains grouped with clades of Pseudonocardia associated with other genera of fungus-growing ants, a large portion of the isolates fell into two novel phylogenetic clades previously not identified from this ant-microbe symbiosis. Our findings suggest that Pseudonocardia may be associated with Atta fungus-growing ants, potentially internalized, and that localizing the symbiont and exploring its role is necessary to shed further light on the association.

  2. Distinct antennal lobe phenotypes in the leaf-cutting ant (Atta vollenweideri).

    PubMed

    Kuebler, L S; Kelber, C; Kleineidam, C J

    2010-02-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri) express a remarkable size polymorphism across the two sexual castes (queens and males) but in particular within the worker caste. Worker size is related to behavior (alloethism), separating workers into behavioral subcastes. The neuronal mechanisms underlying differences in behavior within the worker caste are still unknown. In this study, we first compared selected neuropils, in particular, the antennal lobes (AL) in males, queens, and workers. The males' ALs contain three extremely large, sex-specific glomeruli (macroglomeruli; MGs) and in total comprise fewer glomeruli (242) than the ALs of queens (about 346 glomeruli). In contrast to males, the queen ALs contain only one large glomerulus at a lateral position. The largest number of glomeruli was found in workers (396-442). In a previous paper, we described an MG in the workers' AL, and, in the second part of this study, we show that within workers two distinct, size-related AL phenotypes exist: the MG phenotype (containing a macroglomerulus) and the RG phenotype, with all glomeruli of regular size. This neuroanatomical polyphenism is established during pupal development and separates the worker caste into two neuroanatomical subcastes. Third, we investigate the functional significance of the MG in workers. By using calcium imaging to monitor activity of AL projection neurons, we show that the releaser component of the trail pheromone is represented in the same region as the MG. We propose that phenotypic trait variation in the organization of the ALs leads to differences in odor information processing that finally result in size-related differences in trail-following behavior. PMID:19950119

  3. Somatic incompatibility and genetic structure of fungal crops in sympatric Atta colombica and Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Kooij, Pepijn W.; Poulsen, Michael; Schiøtt, Morten; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2015-01-01

    Obligate mutualistic symbioses rely on mechanisms that secure host-symbiont commitments to maximize host benefits and prevent symbiont cheating. Previous studies showed that somatic incompatibilities correlate with neutral-marker-based genetic distances between fungal symbionts of Panamanian Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants, but the extent to which this relationship applies more generally remained unclear. Here we showed that genetic distances accurately predicted somatic incompatibility for Acromyrmex echinatior symbionts irrespective of whether neutral microsatellites or AFLP markers were used, but that such correlations were weaker or absent in sympatric Atta colombica colonies. Further analysis showed that the symbiont clades maintained by A. echinatior and A. colombica were likely to represent separate gene pools, so that neutral markers were unlikely to be similarly correlated with incompatibility loci that have experienced different selection regimes. We suggest that evolutionarily derived claustral colony founding by Atta queens may have removed selection for strong incompatibility in Atta fungi, as this condition makes the likelihood of symbiont swaps much lower than in Acromyrmex, where incipient nests stay open because queens have to forage until the first workers emerge. PMID:26865859

  4. Expressed sequence tags from Atta laevigata and identification of candidate genes for the control of pest leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Leafcutters are the highest evolved within Neotropical ants in the tribe Attini and model systems for studying caste formation, labor division and symbiosis with microorganisms. Some species of leafcutters are agricultural pests controlled by chemicals which affect other animals and accumulate in the environment. Aiming to provide genetic basis for the study of leafcutters and for the development of more specific and environmentally friendly methods for the control of pest leafcutters, we generated expressed sequence tag data from Atta laevigata, one of the pest ants with broad geographic distribution in South America. Results The analysis of the expressed sequence tags allowed us to characterize 2,006 unique sequences in Atta laevigata. Sixteen of these genes had a high number of transcripts and are likely positively selected for high level of gene expression, being responsible for three basic biological functions: energy conservation through redox reactions in mitochondria; cytoskeleton and muscle structuring; regulation of gene expression and metabolism. Based on leafcutters lifestyle and reports of genes involved in key processes of other social insects, we identified 146 sequences potential targets for controlling pest leafcutters. The targets are responsible for antixenobiosis, development and longevity, immunity, resistance to pathogens, pheromone function, cell signaling, behavior, polysaccharide metabolism and arginine kynase activity. Conclusion The generation and analysis of expressed sequence tags from Atta laevigata have provided important genetic basis for future studies on the biology of leaf-cutting ants and may contribute to the development of a more specific and environmentally friendly method for the control of agricultural pest leafcutters. PMID:21682882

  5. The intramandibular gland of leaf-cutting ants (Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel 1908).

    PubMed

    do Amaral, Jônatas Bussador; Caetano, Flávio Henrique

    2006-01-01

    The eusociality developed in Hymenoptera and Isoptera is driven by an efficient interaction between exocrine glands and jointed appendages, both in close interaction with the environment. In this context, the mandible of ants plays an important role, since, in addition to being the main jointed appendage, it possess glandular functions. As an example we might name the two glands associated with the mandible: the mandibular and the intramandibular glands. The intramandibular gland is found inside the mandible and consists of a hypertrophied secretory epithelium and secretory cells in the mandible's lumen. The secretion of the secretory epithelium is liberated through intracuticular ducts that open at the base of hairs at the mandible's surface. The secretion of the intramandibular gland (epithelium and secretory cells) reacted positively to tests for the detection of polysaccharides and proteins, thus suggesting that it consists of glycoproteins. The ultrastructure of the secretory epithelium presents variations related to the developmental stage of the individual, showing a large number of ribosomes and microvilli close to the cuticle in young individuals, while in the older specimens it was possible to note the formation of an intracellular reservoir. These variations of secretory epithelium, as also the interaction between the cellular groups inside the mandible, are important information about this gland in leaf-cutting ants.

  6. Intramandibular glands in different castes of leaf-cutting ant, Atta laevigata (Fr. Smith, 1858) (Formicidae: Attini).

    PubMed

    Martins, Luiza Carla Barbosa; Della Lucia, Terezinha Maria Castro; Gonçalves, Wagner Gonzaga; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Zanuncio, José Cola; Serrão, José Eduardo

    2015-07-01

    Intramandibular glands have been poorly studied in polymorphic ants, where the differences between castes were unsufficiently scrutinized. Leaf-cutting ants possess one of the most complex systems of communication and labor division, which is polymorphic well as age polyethism, and makes them an ideal model for the study of intramandibular glands. This study has investigated the occurrence of intramandibular glands in female castes and subcastes of Atta laevigata. The mandibles of the queen, medium, and minor workers, and soldiers were submitted to histological, histochemical, ultrastructural, and morphometric analyses. The class-3 gland cells and the epidermal gland with a reservoir were found in all the castes. The queens and soldiers showed a higher number of class-3 gland cells, distributed within the mandible as well as a greater gland size in comparison to the workers. The histochemical tests, periodic acid-Schiff (PAS), mercury-bromophenol, and Nile blue, were similar for the class-3 gland cells and epidermal glands with a reservoir. However, the tests evidenced differences between the castes, with carbohydrates strongly positive in all of them, whereas neutral lipids were found in the queen and soldiers. The protein was weakly positive in the queen, whereas in the soldier, medium, and minor workers these reactions were strongly positive in the intramandibular glands. Our findings in A. laevigata suggest that intramandibular glands are directly involved in labor division and consequently in chemical communication between the castes.

  7. The determination of nest depth in founding queens of leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri): idiothetic and temporal control.

    PubMed

    Fröhle, Kerstin; Roces, Flavio

    2012-05-15

    Leaf-cutting ant queens excavate a founding nest consisting of a vertical tunnel and a final horizontal chamber. Nest foundation is very time consuming, and colony success depends on the excavated depth. Although shallow nests may be energetically cheaper to dig, queens may be more exposed to the changing environment. Deeper chambers, in contrast, may be climatically more stable, but are more expensive to dig. We investigated the mechanisms underlying the control of nest depth in queens of the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri. We focused on the use of internal information for the control of nest depth, and therefore maintained the soil and environmental conditions invariant during the different laboratory experiments. We compared the tunnel lengths excavated by queens that were able to complete their nests earlier, faster or slower than under standard conditions. An earlier and faster nest completion was obtained by offering queens either pre-excavated tunnels of different lengths, soils at different temperatures, or soft sandy soils. A slower nest excavation was induced by offering queens harder dry soils, and by delaying the start of digging several days after the nuptial flight. Results indicate that the determination of nest depth was a regulated process involving the use of internal references: queens excavated their tunnels either until a particular depth was reached or for some predetermined length of time. Queens appear to monitor their movements while walking up und down the tunnel, and to compare this sensory information with a motor command that represents a preset tunnel length to be excavated before switching to chamber digging. In addition to this form of idiothetic control, results indicate that the elapsed digging time also feeds back onto the control system. It is argued that the determination of nest depth, i.e. the transition from tunnel to chamber digging, is initiated either after a preset tunnel length is reached, or as soon as a maximal

  8. Do Leaf Cutting Ants Cut Undetected? Testing the Effect of Ant-Induced Plant Defences on Foraging Decisions in Atta colombica

    PubMed Central

    Kost, Christian; Tremmel, Martin; Wirth, Rainer

    2011-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (LCAs) are polyphagous, yet highly selective herbivores. The factors that govern their selection of food plants, however, remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that the induction of anti-herbivore defences by attacked food plants, which are toxic to either ants or their mutualistic fungus, should significantly affect the ants' foraging behaviour. To test this “induced defence hypothesis,” we used lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus), a plant that emits many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) upon herbivore attack with known anti-fungal or ant-repellent effects. Our results provide three important insights into the foraging ecology of LCAs. First, leaf-cutting by Atta ants can induce plant defences: Lima bean plants that were repeatedly exposed to foraging workers of Atta colombica over a period of three days emitted significantly more VOCs than undamaged control plants. Second, the level to which a plant has induced its anti-herbivore defences can affect the LCAs' foraging behaviour: In dual choice bioassays, foragers discriminated control plants from plants that have been damaged mechanically or by LCAs 24 h ago. In contrast, strong induction levels of plants after treatment with the plant hormone jasmonic acid or three days of LCA feeding strongly repelled LCA foragers relative to undamaged control plants. Third, the LCA-specific mode of damaging leaves allows them to remove larger quantities of leaf material before being recognized by the plant: While leaf loss of approximately 15% due to a chewing herbivore (coccinelid beetle) was sufficient to significantly increase VOC emission levels after 24 h, the removal of even 20% of a plant's leaf area within 20 min by LCAs did not affect its VOC emission rate after 24 h. Taken together, our results support the “induced defence hypothesis” and provide first empirical evidence that the foraging behaviour of LCAs is affected by the induction of plant defence responses. PMID:21799831

  9. Do leaf cutting ants cut undetected? Testing the effect of ant-induced plant defences on foraging decisions in Atta colombica.

    PubMed

    Kost, Christian; Tremmel, Martin; Wirth, Rainer

    2011-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (LCAs) are polyphagous, yet highly selective herbivores. The factors that govern their selection of food plants, however, remain poorly understood. We hypothesized that the induction of anti-herbivore defences by attacked food plants, which are toxic to either ants or their mutualistic fungus, should significantly affect the ants' foraging behaviour. To test this "induced defence hypothesis," we used lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus), a plant that emits many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) upon herbivore attack with known anti-fungal or ant-repellent effects. Our results provide three important insights into the foraging ecology of LCAs. First, leaf-cutting by Atta ants can induce plant defences: Lima bean plants that were repeatedly exposed to foraging workers of Atta colombica over a period of three days emitted significantly more VOCs than undamaged control plants. Second, the level to which a plant has induced its anti-herbivore defences can affect the LCAs' foraging behaviour: In dual choice bioassays, foragers discriminated control plants from plants that have been damaged mechanically or by LCAs 24 h ago. In contrast, strong induction levels of plants after treatment with the plant hormone jasmonic acid or three days of LCA feeding strongly repelled LCA foragers relative to undamaged control plants. Third, the LCA-specific mode of damaging leaves allows them to remove larger quantities of leaf material before being recognized by the plant: While leaf loss of approximately 15% due to a chewing herbivore (coccinelid beetle) was sufficient to significantly increase VOC emission levels after 24 h, the removal of even 20% of a plant's leaf area within 20 min by LCAs did not affect its VOC emission rate after 24 h. Taken together, our results support the "induced defence hypothesis" and provide first empirical evidence that the foraging behaviour of LCAs is affected by the induction of plant defence responses.

  10. Queen influence on workers behavior of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Forel, 1908).

    PubMed

    Sousa-Souto, L; Souza, D J

    2006-05-01

    In an ant colony, the queen is the single reproducer and can interact with her workers via pheromones and cuticular compounds. However, in most species queen importance is not restricted to reproduction: in the initial development of the colony, her presence might play a more important role. In this work, we studied the effects of queen absence on workers behavior displayed in the foraging arena. Ants mortality and refuse accumulation was also measured daily. The results showed that queen absence did not alter either workers behavior or foraging efficiency. However, we observed increased ant mortality accompanied by a decrease in refuse dumping outside the nest. These results corroborate the hypothesis that environmental factors are more important than intrinsical factors in the allocation of external tasks. Probably, the queen could only influence internal activities of the colony. PMID:16862305

  11. Leaf processing behaviour in Atta leafcutter ants: 90% of leaf cutting takes place inside the nest, and ants select pieces that require less cutting.

    PubMed

    Garrett, Ryan W; Carlson, Katherine A; Goggans, Matthew Scott; Nesson, Michael H; Shepard, Christopher A; Schofield, Robert M S

    2016-01-01

    Leafcutter ants cut trimmings from plants, carry them to their underground nests and cut them into smaller pieces before inoculating them with a fungus that serves as a primary food source for the colony. Cutting is energetically costly, so the amount of cutting is important in understanding foraging energetics. Estimates of the cutting density, metres of cutting per square metre of leaf, were made from samples of transported leaf cuttings and of fungal substrate from field colonies of Atta cephalotes and Atta colombica. To investigate cutting inside the nest, we made leaf-processing observations of our laboratory colony, A. cephalotes. We did not observe the commonly reported reduction of the leaf fragments into a pulp, which would greatly increase the energy cost of processing. Video clips of processing behaviours, including behaviours that have not previously been described, are linked. An estimated 2.9 (±0.3) km of cutting with mandibles was required to reduce a square metre of leaf to fungal substrate. Only about 12% (±1%) of this cutting took place outside of the nest. The cutting density and energy cost is lower for leaf material with higher ratios of perimeter to area, so we tested for, and found that the laboratory ants had a preference for leaves that were pre-cut into smaller pieces. Estimates suggest that the energy required to transport and cut up the leaf material is comparable to the metabolic energy available from the fungus grown on the leaves, and so conservation of energy is likely to be a particularly strong selective pressure for leafcutter ants. PMID:26909161

  12. Leaf processing behaviour in Atta leafcutter ants: 90% of leaf cutting takes place inside the nest, and ants select pieces that require less cutting

    PubMed Central

    Garrett, Ryan W.; Carlson, Katherine A.; Goggans, Matthew Scott; Nesson, Michael H.; Shepard, Christopher A.; Schofield, Robert M. S.

    2016-01-01

    Leafcutter ants cut trimmings from plants, carry them to their underground nests and cut them into smaller pieces before inoculating them with a fungus that serves as a primary food source for the colony. Cutting is energetically costly, so the amount of cutting is important in understanding foraging energetics. Estimates of the cutting density, metres of cutting per square metre of leaf, were made from samples of transported leaf cuttings and of fungal substrate from field colonies of Atta cephalotes and Atta colombica. To investigate cutting inside the nest, we made leaf-processing observations of our laboratory colony, A. cephalotes. We did not observe the commonly reported reduction of the leaf fragments into a pulp, which would greatly increase the energy cost of processing. Video clips of processing behaviours, including behaviours that have not previously been described, are linked. An estimated 2.9 (±0.3) km of cutting with mandibles was required to reduce a square metre of leaf to fungal substrate. Only about 12% (±1%) of this cutting took place outside of the nest. The cutting density and energy cost is lower for leaf material with higher ratios of perimeter to area, so we tested for, and found that the laboratory ants had a preference for leaves that were pre-cut into smaller pieces. Estimates suggest that the energy required to transport and cut up the leaf material is comparable to the metabolic energy available from the fungus grown on the leaves, and so conservation of energy is likely to be a particularly strong selective pressure for leafcutter ants. PMID:26909161

  13. Caste-specific expression patterns of immune response and chemosensory related genes in the leaf-cutting ant, Atta vollenweideri.

    PubMed

    Koch, Sarah I; Groh, Katrin; Vogel, Heiko; Hansson, Bill S; Hannson, Bill S; Kleineidam, Christoph J; Grosse-Wilde, Ewald

    2013-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants are evolutionary derived social insects with elaborated division of labor and tremendous colony sizes with millions of workers. Their social organization is mainly based on olfactory communication using different pheromones and is promoted by a pronounced size-polymorphism of workers that perform different tasks within the colony. The size polymorphism and associated behaviors are correlated to distinct antennal lobe (AL) phenotypes. Two worker phenotypes differ in number of olfactory glomeruli in the AL and the presence or absence of an extremely large glomerulus (macroglomerulus), involved in trail-pheromone reception. The males' AL contains three macroglomeruli which are presumably involved in detection of sex-pheromone components. We investigated the antennal transcriptome data of all major castes (males, queens and workers) and two worker subcastes (large and tiny workers). In order to identify putative odorant receptor genes involved in pheromone detection, we identified differentially expressed odorant receptor genes (OR-genes) using custom microarrays. In total, we found 185 OR-gene fragments that are clearly related to ORs and we identified orthologs for 70 OR-genes. Among them one OR-gene differs in relative expression between the two worker subcastes by a factor of >3 and thus is a very promising candidate gene for the trail-pheromone receptor. Using the relative expression of OR-genes in males versus queens, we identified 2 candidates for sex-pheromone receptor genes in males. In addition, we identified genes from all other chemosensory related gene families (13 chemosensory protein genes, 8 odorant binding protein genes, 2 sensory-neuron membrane protein genes, 7 ionotropic receptor genes, 2 gustatory receptor genes), and we found ant-specific expansions in the chemosensory protein gene family. In addition, a large number of genes involved in immune defense exhibited differential expression across the three different castes, and some

  14. Caste-Specific Expression Patterns of Immune Response and Chemosensory Related Genes in the Leaf-Cutting Ant, Atta vollenweideri

    PubMed Central

    Koch, Sarah I.; Groh, Katrin; Vogel, Heiko; Hannson, Bill S.; Kleineidam, Christoph J.; Grosse-Wilde, Ewald

    2013-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants are evolutionary derived social insects with elaborated division of labor and tremendous colony sizes with millions of workers. Their social organization is mainly based on olfactory communication using different pheromones and is promoted by a pronounced size-polymorphism of workers that perform different tasks within the colony. The size polymorphism and associated behaviors are correlated to distinct antennal lobe (AL) phenotypes. Two worker phenotypes differ in number of olfactory glomeruli in the AL and the presence or absence of an extremely large glomerulus (macroglomerulus), involved in trail-pheromone reception. The males' AL contains three macroglomeruli which are presumably involved in detection of sex-pheromone components. We investigated the antennal transcriptome data of all major castes (males, queens and workers) and two worker subcastes (large and tiny workers). In order to identify putative odorant receptor genes involved in pheromone detection, we identified differentially expressed odorant receptor genes (OR-genes) using custom microarrays. In total, we found 185 OR-gene fragments that are clearly related to ORs and we identified orthologs for 70 OR-genes. Among them one OR-gene differs in relative expression between the two worker subcastes by a factor of >3 and thus is a very promising candidate gene for the trail-pheromone receptor. Using the relative expression of OR-genes in males versus queens, we identified 2 candidates for sex-pheromone receptor genes in males. In addition, we identified genes from all other chemosensory related gene families (13 chemosensory protein genes, 8 odorant binding protein genes, 2 sensory-neuron membrane protein genes, 7 ionotropic receptor genes, 2 gustatory receptor genes), and we found ant-specific expansions in the chemosensory protein gene family. In addition, a large number of genes involved in immune defense exhibited differential expression across the three different castes, and some

  15. Chemical and behavioural studies of the trail-following pheromone in the leaf-cutting ant Atta opaciceps, Borgmeier (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Campos, Rousseau da Silva; Mendonça, Adriana de Lima; Cabral, Cyro Rêgo; Vaníčková, Lucie; Do Nascimento, Ruth Rufino

    2016-03-01

    To understand the significance of the trail pheromone used in chemical communication of the leaf-cutting ants Atta opaciceps we investigated, under laboratory conditions, the trail-following behaviour of different castes. We observed a clear behavioural discrimination of conspecific venom gland extract of foraging ants from those of other species. Additionally, we determined the pheromone composition of A. opaciceps venom gland secretion using a two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Chemical analyses revealed the presence of three nitrogen-containing compounds, identified as 2,5-dimethylpyrazine, 3-ethyl-2,5-dimethylpyrazine and methyl 4-methylpyrrole-2-carboxylate (M4MPC). Four different bioassays performed with workers from different castes of A. opaciceps suggested that the trail pheromone elicits the trail-following behaviour in conspecifics of all castes, but the foragers respond more strongly to their own pheromone than to that of other castes (gardeners, generalists and soldiers). In addition, A. opaciceps foragers follow the trails made with the venom gland extracts of the unrelated Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus foragers as well as they follow the trails made with their own venom gland extract. M4MPC was identified to be the most abundant and the most behaviourally active component of the venom gland extract of A. opaciceps foragers. PMID:26718582

  16. Soil moisture and excavation behaviour in the Chaco leaf-cutting ant (Atta vollenweideri): digging performance and prevention of water inflow into the nest.

    PubMed

    Pielström, Steffen; Roces, Flavio

    2014-01-01

    The Chaco leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri is native to the clay-heavy soils of the Gran Chaco region in South America. Because of seasonal floods, colonies are regularly exposed to varying moisture across the soil profile, a factor that not only strongly influences workers' digging performance during nest building, but also determines the suitability of the soil for the rearing of the colony's symbiotic fungus. In this study, we investigated the effects of varying soil moisture on behaviours associated with underground nest building in A. vollenweideri. This was done in a series of laboratory experiments using standardised, plastic clay-water mixtures with gravimetric water contents ranging from relatively brittle material to mixtures close to the liquid limit. Our experiments showed that preference and group-level digging rate increased with increasing water content, but then dropped considerably for extremely moist materials. The production of vibrational recruitment signals during digging showed, on the contrary, a slightly negative linear correlation with soil moisture. Workers formed and carried clay pellets at higher rates in moist clay, even at the highest water content tested. Hence, their weak preference and low group-level excavation rate observed for that mixture cannot be explained by any inability to work with the material. More likely, extremely high moistures may indicate locations unsuitable for nest building. To test this hypothesis, we simulated a situation in which workers excavated an upward tunnel below accumulated surface water. The ants stopped digging about 12 mm below the interface soil/water, a behaviour representing a possible adaptation to the threat of water inflow field colonies are exposed to while digging under seasonally flooded soils. Possible roles of soil water in the temporal and spatial pattern of nest growth are discussed.

  17. Soil Moisture and Excavation Behaviour in the Chaco Leaf-Cutting Ant (Atta vollenweideri): Digging Performance and Prevention of Water Inflow into the Nest

    PubMed Central

    Pielström, Steffen; Roces, Flavio

    2014-01-01

    The Chaco leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri is native to the clay-heavy soils of the Gran Chaco region in South America. Because of seasonal floods, colonies are regularly exposed to varying moisture across the soil profile, a factor that not only strongly influences workers' digging performance during nest building, but also determines the suitability of the soil for the rearing of the colony's symbiotic fungus. In this study, we investigated the effects of varying soil moisture on behaviours associated with underground nest building in A. vollenweideri. This was done in a series of laboratory experiments using standardised, plastic clay-water mixtures with gravimetric water contents ranging from relatively brittle material to mixtures close to the liquid limit. Our experiments showed that preference and group-level digging rate increased with increasing water content, but then dropped considerably for extremely moist materials. The production of vibrational recruitment signals during digging showed, on the contrary, a slightly negative linear correlation with soil moisture. Workers formed and carried clay pellets at higher rates in moist clay, even at the highest water content tested. Hence, their weak preference and low group-level excavation rate observed for that mixture cannot be explained by any inability to work with the material. More likely, extremely high moistures may indicate locations unsuitable for nest building. To test this hypothesis, we simulated a situation in which workers excavated an upward tunnel below accumulated surface water. The ants stopped digging about 12 mm below the interface soil/water, a behaviour representing a possible adaptation to the threat of water inflow field colonies are exposed to while digging under seasonally flooded soils. Possible roles of soil water in the temporal and spatial pattern of nest growth are discussed. PMID:24748382

  18. Plants use macronutrients accumulated in leaf-cutting ant nests

    PubMed Central

    da S.L Sternberg, Leonel; Pinzon, Maria Camila; Moreira, Marcelo Z; Moutinho, Paulo; Rojas, Enith I; Herre, Edward Allen

    2006-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (Atta spp.) are known for their extensive defoliation in neo-tropical forests and savannahs. Debate about the costs and benefits of their activities has been largely dominated by their detrimental effects on agriculture and agroforestry. However, the large accumulation of nutrients and changes in soil properties near their nests might benefit plants growing near them. Here, we test whether trees use nutrients that accumulate in debris piles near, or refuse chambers within, leaf-cutting ant nests. At two tropical sites (a moist tropical forest site in Panama and a savannah site in Brazil), we fed leaves labelled with the stable isotope 15N to two species of leaf-cutting ants (Atta colombica and Atta laevigata) and traced the stable isotope label in plants surrounding the two nests. Thus, we show that plants in both sites access resources associated with Atta nests. In addition, leaf tissue of trees near the nests labelled with 15N had significantly higher calcium concentrations than those of distal, unlabelled conspecifics. It has been documented that calcium is a limiting macronutrient in tropical forests and savannahs. Atta may thus play an important ecological role through their long-distance transport, redistribution and concentration of critical macronutrients. PMID:17164194

  19. A colony-level response to disease control in a leaf-cutting ant

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hart, Adam; Bot, A. N. M.; Brown, Mark

    2002-03-01

    Parasites and pathogens often impose significant costs on their hosts. This is particularly true for social organisms, where the genetic structure of groups and the accumulation of contaminated waste facilitate disease transmission. In response, hosts have evolved many mechanisms of defence against parasites. Here we present evidence that Atta colombica, a leaf-cutting ant, may combat Escovopsis, a dangerous parasite of Atta's garden fungus, through a colony-level behavioural response. In A. colombica, garden waste is removed from within the colony and transported to the midden - an external waste dump - where it is processed by a group of midden workers. We found that colonies infected with Escovopsis have higher numbers of workers on the midden, where Escovopsis is deposited. Further, midden workers are highly effective in dispersing newly deposited waste away from the dumping site. Thus, the colony-level task allocation strategies of the Atta superorganism may change in response to the threat of disease to a third, essential party.

  20. Leaf-cutting ants: an unexpected microenvironment holding human opportunistic black fungi.

    PubMed

    Duarte, A P M; Attili-Angelis, D; Baron, N C; Forti, L C; Pagnocca, F C

    2014-09-01

    Fungus-growing ants of the genus Atta are known for their leaf-cutting habit, a lifestyle they have maintained since their 50-million-year-old co-evolution with a mutualistic fungus, cultivated as food. Recent studies have highlighted that, in addition to the mutualistic fungus, nests of ants harbor a great diversity of microbial communities. Such microorganisms include the dematiaceous fungi, which are characterized by their melanized cell walls. In order to contribute to the knowledge of fungal ecology, as well as opportunistic strains that may be dispersed by these social insects, we isolated and identified fungi carried by gynes of Atta capiguara and Atta laevigata, collected from colonies located in Fazenda Santana, Botucatu (São Paulo, Brazil). The isolation was carried out using the oil flotation technique, which is suitable for the growth of black fungi. Inoculated plates were incubated at 25 and 35 °C until black cultures were visible (20-45 days). Isolates were identified based on microscopic and molecular characteristics. Some isolated genera were: Cladophialophora, Cladosporium, Exophiala, Ochroconis, Phaeococcomyces, Phialophora and Penidiella. Hyaline species were also found. The results obtained from this work showed that leaf-cutting gynes may contribute to the dispersal of opportunistic dematiaceous fungi. It is suggested that more attention should be paid to this still unexplored subject. PMID:24969946

  1. Differences in Forage-Acquisition and Fungal Enzyme Activity Contribute to Niche Segregation in Panamanian Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Kooij, Pepijn W.; Liberti, Joanito; Giampoudakis, Konstantinos; Schiøtt, Morten; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2014-01-01

    The genera Atta and Acromyrmex are often grouped as leaf-cutting ants for pest management assessments and ecological surveys, although their mature colony sizes and foraging niches may differ substantially. Few studies have addressed such interspecific differences at the same site, which prompted us to conduct a comparative study across six sympatric leaf-cutting ant species in Central Panama. We show that foraging rates during the transition between dry and wet season differ about 60 fold between genera, but are relatively constant across species within genera. These differences appear to match overall differences in colony size, especially when Atta workers that return to their nests without leaves are assumed to carry liquid food. We confirm that Panamanian Atta specialize primarily on tree-leaves whereas Acromyrmex focus on collecting flowers and herbal leaves and that species within genera are similar in these overall foraging strategies. Species within genera tended to be spaced out over the three habitat categories that we distinguished (forest, forest edge, open grassland), but each of these habitats normally had only a single predominant Atta and Acromyrmex species. We measured activities of twelve fungus garden decomposition enzymes, belonging to the amylases, cellulases, hemicellulases, pectinases and proteinases, and show that average enzyme activity per unit of fungal mass in Atta gardens is lower than in Acromyrmex gardens. Expression profiles of fungal enzymes in Atta also appeared to be more specialized than in Acromyrmex, possibly reflecting variation in forage material. Our results suggest that species- and genus-level identities of leaf-cutting ants and habitat-specific foraging profiles may give predictable differences in the expression of fungal genes coding for decomposition enzymes. PMID:24718261

  2. Digestive capacities of leaf-cutting ants and the contribution of their fungal cultivar to the degradation of plant material.

    PubMed

    Richard, Freddie-Jeanne; Mora, Philippe; Errard, Christine; Rouland, Corinne

    2005-07-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (tribe Attini) are a unique group of ants that cultivate a fungus that serves as a main source of their food. The fungus is grown on fresh leaves that are harvested by workers. We examine the respective contribution of ants and their symbiotic fungus in the degradation of plant material by examining the digestive capacities of seven Attini species in the genera Atta and Acromyrmex. The results show that both, the ants and their mutualistic fungi, have complementary enzymatic activities. Ants are specialized in the degradation of low molecular weight substrates (oligosaccharides and heterosides) whereas the fungus displays high polysaccharidase activity. The two genera Atta and Acromyrmex are not distinguished by a specific enzymatic activity. The seven different mutualistic associations examined display a similar enzymatic profile but have quantitative differences in substrate degradation activities. The respective contribution of ants and the fungus garden in plant degradation are discussed.

  3. A colony-level response to disease control in a leaf-cutting ant.

    PubMed

    Hart, Adam G; Bot, A N M; Brown, Mark J F

    2002-06-01

    Parasites and pathogens often impose significant costs on their hosts. This is particularly true for social organisms, where the genetic structure of groups and the accumulation of contaminated waste facilitate disease transmission. In response, hosts have evolved many mechanisms of defence against parasites. Here we present evidence that Atta colombica, a leaf-cutting ant, may combat Escovopsis, a dangerous parasite of Atta's garden fungus, through a colony-level behavioural response. In A. colombica, garden waste is removed from within the colony and transported to the midden--an external waste dump--where it is processed by a group of midden workers. We found that colonies infected with Escovopsis have higher numbers of workers on the midden, where Escovopsis is deposited. Further, midden workers are highly effective in dispersing newly deposited waste away from the dumping site. Thus, the colony-level task allocation strategies of the Atta superorganism may change in response to the threat of disease to a third, essential party. PMID:12146794

  4. Edge-induced narrowing of dietary diversity in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Falcão, P F; Pinto, S R R; Wirth, R; Leal, I R

    2011-06-01

    Much of the ecological alteration faced by human-modified Neotropical forests can be assigned to edge effects, including the proliferation of some voracious herbivores such as leaf-cutting ants. However, the underlying mechanisms/impacts of tropical forest edge on herbivores performance and their foraging behaviour (e.g. dietary diversity) have rarely been investigated. The goal of this study was, therefore, to determine whether and how the annual diet (i.e. species richness, diversity and the relative proportion of pioneer versus non-pioneer species of plant materials) of Atta cephalotes colonies differs in the forest edge versus the interior zone of a large remnant of Atlantic forest in northeastern Brazil. Among the key results was a strong habitat effect on dietary diversity (explaining ca. 40-50% of the variation), which, in edge colonies, decreased approximately by one fourth compared to interior colonies (inverse of Simpson's index: 3.7±0.84 versus 4.99±0.95). There was a predominance of leaf fragments collected from pioneer species in the diet in both habitat (86% in edge and 80.4% in interior). Edge colonies collected proportionally more fragments from pioneer species than colonies located in the forest interior. Our results are the first to demonstrate an edge-mediated relaxation of dietary restrictions in leaf-cutting ants. These findings render robust support to previous evidence indicating the reduction of bottom-up forces as a key factor explaining both edge-induced hyper-abundance and increased herbivory of leaf-cutting ants in human-modified Neotropical landscapes.

  5. Generation of Nutrients and Detoxification: Possible Roles of Yeasts in Leaf-Cutting Ant Nests.

    PubMed

    Mendes, Thais D; Rodrigues, André; Dayo-Owoyemi, Ifeloju; Marson, Fernando A L; Pagnocca, Fernando C

    2012-02-17

    The possible roles played by yeasts in attine ant nests are mostly unknown. Here we present our investigations on the plant polysaccharide degradation profile of 82 yeasts isolated from fungus gardens of Atta and Acromyrmex species to demonstrate that yeasts found in ant nests may play the role of making nutrients readily available throughout the garden and detoxification of compounds that may be deleterious to the ants and their fungal cultivar. Among the yeasts screened, 65% exhibited cellulolytic enzymes, 44% exhibited pectinolytic activity while 27% and 17% possess enzyme systems for the degradation of protease and amylase, respectively. Galacturonic acid, which had been reported in previous work to be poorly assimilated by the ant fungus and also to have a negative effect on ants' survival, was assimilated by 64% and 79% of yeasts isolated from nests of A. texana and Acromyrmex respectively. Our results suggest that yeasts found in ant nests may participate in generation of nutrients and removal of potentially toxic compounds, thereby contributing to the stability of the complex microbiota found in the leaf-cutting ant nests.

  6. Contact rate modulates foraging efficiency in leaf cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Bouchebti, S.; Ferrere, S.; Vittori, K.; Latil, G.; Dussutour, A.; Fourcassié, V.

    2015-01-01

    Lane segregation is rarely observed in animals that move in bidirectional flows. Consequently, these animals generally experience a high rate of head-on collisions during their journeys. Although these collisions have a cost (each collision induces a delay resulting in a decrease of individual speed), they could also have a benefit by promoting information transfer between individuals. Here we explore the impact of head-on collisions in leaf-cutting ants moving on foraging trails by artificially decreasing the rate of head-on collisions between individuals. We show that head-on collisions do not influence the rate of recruitment in these ants but do influence foraging efficiency, i.e. the proportion of ants returning to the nest with a leaf fragment. Surprisingly, both unladen and laden ants returning to the nest participate in the modulation of foraging efficiency: foraging efficiency decreases when the rate of contacts with both nestbound laden or unladen ants decreases. These results suggest that outgoing ants are able to collect information from inbound ants even when these latter do not carry any leaf fragment and that this information can influence their foraging decisions when reaching the end of the trail. PMID:26686557

  7. Functional role of phenylacetic acid from metapleural gland secretions in controlling fungal pathogens in evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Nash, David R; Higginbotham, Sarah; Estrada, Catalina; van Zweden, Jelle S; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Wcislo, William T; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2015-05-22

    Fungus-farming ant colonies vary four to five orders of magnitude in size. They employ compounds from actinomycete bacteria and exocrine glands as antimicrobial agents. Atta colonies have millions of ants and are particularly relevant for understanding hygienic strategies as they have abandoned their ancestors' prime dependence on antibiotic-based biological control in favour of using metapleural gland (MG) chemical secretions. Atta MGs are unique in synthesizing large quantities of phenylacetic acid (PAA), a known but little investigated antimicrobial agent. We show that particularly the smallest workers greatly reduce germination rates of Escovopsis and Metarhizium spores after actively applying PAA to experimental infection targets in garden fragments and transferring the spores to the ants' infrabuccal cavities. In vitro assays further indicated that Escovopsis strains isolated from evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants are less sensitive to PAA than strains from phylogenetically more basal fungus-farming ants, consistent with the dynamics of an evolutionary arms race between virulence and control for Escovopsis, but not Metarhizium. Atta ants form larger colonies with more extreme caste differentiation relative to other attines, in societies characterized by an almost complete absence of reproductive conflicts. We hypothesize that these changes are associated with unique evolutionary innovations in chemical pest management that appear robust against selection pressure for resistance by specialized mycopathogens. PMID:25925100

  8. Functional role of phenylacetic acid from metapleural gland secretions in controlling fungal pathogens in evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Nash, David R.; Higginbotham, Sarah; Estrada, Catalina; van Zweden, Jelle S.; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Wcislo, William T.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2015-01-01

    Fungus-farming ant colonies vary four to five orders of magnitude in size. They employ compounds from actinomycete bacteria and exocrine glands as antimicrobial agents. Atta colonies have millions of ants and are particularly relevant for understanding hygienic strategies as they have abandoned their ancestors' prime dependence on antibiotic-based biological control in favour of using metapleural gland (MG) chemical secretions. Atta MGs are unique in synthesizing large quantities of phenylacetic acid (PAA), a known but little investigated antimicrobial agent. We show that particularly the smallest workers greatly reduce germination rates of Escovopsis and Metarhizium spores after actively applying PAA to experimental infection targets in garden fragments and transferring the spores to the ants' infrabuccal cavities. In vitro assays further indicated that Escovopsis strains isolated from evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants are less sensitive to PAA than strains from phylogenetically more basal fungus-farming ants, consistent with the dynamics of an evolutionary arms race between virulence and control for Escovopsis, but not Metarhizium. Atta ants form larger colonies with more extreme caste differentiation relative to other attines, in societies characterized by an almost complete absence of reproductive conflicts. We hypothesize that these changes are associated with unique evolutionary innovations in chemical pest management that appear robust against selection pressure for resistance by specialized mycopathogens. PMID:25925100

  9. Functional role of phenylacetic acid from metapleural gland secretions in controlling fungal pathogens in evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Nash, David R; Higginbotham, Sarah; Estrada, Catalina; van Zweden, Jelle S; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Wcislo, William T; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2015-05-22

    Fungus-farming ant colonies vary four to five orders of magnitude in size. They employ compounds from actinomycete bacteria and exocrine glands as antimicrobial agents. Atta colonies have millions of ants and are particularly relevant for understanding hygienic strategies as they have abandoned their ancestors' prime dependence on antibiotic-based biological control in favour of using metapleural gland (MG) chemical secretions. Atta MGs are unique in synthesizing large quantities of phenylacetic acid (PAA), a known but little investigated antimicrobial agent. We show that particularly the smallest workers greatly reduce germination rates of Escovopsis and Metarhizium spores after actively applying PAA to experimental infection targets in garden fragments and transferring the spores to the ants' infrabuccal cavities. In vitro assays further indicated that Escovopsis strains isolated from evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants are less sensitive to PAA than strains from phylogenetically more basal fungus-farming ants, consistent with the dynamics of an evolutionary arms race between virulence and control for Escovopsis, but not Metarhizium. Atta ants form larger colonies with more extreme caste differentiation relative to other attines, in societies characterized by an almost complete absence of reproductive conflicts. We hypothesize that these changes are associated with unique evolutionary innovations in chemical pest management that appear robust against selection pressure for resistance by specialized mycopathogens.

  10. A macroglomerulus in the antennal lobe of leaf-cutting ant workers and its possible functional significance.

    PubMed

    Kleineidam, C J; Obermayer, M; Halbich, W; Rössler, W

    2005-06-01

    Ants have a well-developed olfactory system, and pheromone communication is essential for regulating social life within their colonies. We compared the organization of primary olfactory centers (antennal lobes, ALs) in the brain of two closely related species of leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri, Atta sexdens). Both species express a striking size polymorphism associated with polyethism. We discovered that the ALs of large workers contain a substantially enlarged glomerulus (macroglomerulus, MG) at the entrance of the antennal nerve. This is the first description of an MG in non-sexual individuals of an insect. The location of the MG is laterally reversed in the two species, and workers of different size express a disproportional allometry of glomerular volumes. While ALs of large workers contain an MG, glomeruli in small workers are all similar in size. We further compared electroantennogram (EAG) responses to two common trail pheromone components of leaf-cutting ants: 4-methylpyrrol-2-carboxylate and 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazine. At high concentrations the ratio of the EAG signals to 2-ethyl-3,6-dimethylpyrazine versus 4-methylpyrrol-2-carboxylate was significantly smaller in A. vollenweideri compared with the ratio of EAG signals to the same two components in A. sexdens. The differences in EAG signals and the species specific MG location in large workers provide correlative evidence that the MG may be involved in the detection of the trail pheromone. PMID:15843501

  11. Starch metabolism in Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the symbiotic fungus of leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Silva, A; Bacci, M; Pagnocca, F C; Bueno, O C; Hebling, M J A

    2006-01-01

    Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the symbiotic fungus of the leaf-cutting ants, degrades starch, this degradation being supposed to occur in the plant material which leafcutters forage to the nests, generating most of the glucose which the ants utilize for food. In the present investigation, we show that laboratory cultures of L. gongylophorus produce extracellular alpha-amylase and maltase which degrade starch to glucose, reinforcing that the ants can obtain glucose from starch through the symbiotic fungus. Glucose was found to repress alpha-amylase and, more severely, maltase activity, thus repressing starch degradation by L. gongylophorus, so that we hypothesize that: (1) glucose down-regulation of starch degradation also occurs in the Atta sexdens fungus garden; (2) glucose consumption from the fungus garden by A. sexdens stimulates degradation of starch from plant material by L. gongylophorus, which may represent a mechanism by which leafcutters can control enzyme production by the symbiotic fungus. Since glucose is found in the fungus garden inside the nests, down-regulation of starch degradation by glucose is supposed to occur in the nest and play a part in the control of fungal enzyme production by leafcutters.

  12. Variation in nestmate recognition ability among polymorphic leaf-cutting ant workers.

    PubMed

    Larsen, Janni; Fouks, Bertrand; Bos, Nick; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Nehring, Volker

    2014-11-01

    A key feature for the success of social insects is division of labour, allowing colony members to specialize on different tasks. Nest defence is a defining task for social insects since it is crucial for colony integrity. A particularly impressive and well-known case of worker specialization in complex hymenopteran societies is found in leaf-cutting ants of the genera Atta and Acromyrmex. We hypothesized that three morphological worker castes of Acromyrmex echinatior differ in their likelihood to attack intruders, and show that major workers are more aggressive towards non-nestmate workers than medium and minor workers. Moreover, minors do not discriminate between nestmate and non-nestmate brood, while larger workers do. We further show that A. echinatior ants use cuticular chemical compounds for nestmate recognition. We took advantage of the natural variation in the cuticular compounds between colonies to investigate the proximate factors that may have led to the observed caste differences in aggression. We infer that major workers differ from medium workers in their general propensity to attack intruders (the "action component" of the nestmate recognition system), while minors seem to be less sensitive to foreign odours ("perception component"). Our results highlight the importance of proximate mechanisms underlying social insect behaviour, and encourage an appreciation of intra-colony variation when analysing colony-level traits such as nest defence. PMID:25205477

  13. Prevalence of the genus Cladosporium on the integument of leaf-cutting ants characterized by 454 pyrosequencing.

    PubMed

    Duarte, A P M; Ferro, M; Rodrigues, A; Bacci, M; Nagamoto, N S; Forti, L C; Pagnocca, F C

    2016-09-01

    The relationship of attine ants with their mutualistic fungus and other microorganisms has been studied during the last two centuries. However, previous studies about the diversity of fungi in the ants' microenvironment are based mostly on culture-dependent approaches, lacking a broad characterization of the fungal ant-associated community. Here, we analysed the fungal diversity found on the integument of Atta capiguara and Atta laevigata alate ants using 454 pyrosequencing. We obtained 35,453 ITS reads grouped into 99 molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs). Data analysis revealed that A. capiguara drones had the highest diversity of MOTUs. Besides the occurrence of several uncultured fungi, the mycobiota analysis revealed that the most abundant taxa were the Cladosporium-complex, Cryptococcus laurentii and Epicoccum sp. Taxa in the genus Cladosporium were predominant in all samples, comprising 67.9 % of all reads. The remarkable presence of the genus Cladosporium on the integument of leaf-cutting ants alates from distinct ant species suggests that this fungus is favored in this microenvironment. PMID:27307255

  14. Representation of Thermal Information in the Antennal Lobe of Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Ruchty, Markus; Helmchen, Fritjof; Wehner, Rüdiger; Kleineidam, Christoph Johannes

    2010-01-01

    Insects are equipped with various types of antennal sensilla, which house thermosensitive neurons adapted to receive different parameters of the thermal environment for a variety of temperature-guided behaviors. In the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri, the physiology and the morphology of the thermosensitive sensillum coeloconicum (Sc) has been thoroughly investigated. However, the central projections of its receptor neurons are unknown. Here we selectively stained the three neurons found in single Sc and tracked their axons into the brain of Atta vollenweideri workers. Each of the three axons terminates in a single glomerulus of the antennal lobe (Sc-glomeruli). Two of the innervated glomeruli are adjacent to each other and are located laterally, while the third one is clearly separated and located medially in the antennal lobe. Using two-photon Ca2+ imaging of antennal lobe projection neurons, we studied where in the antennal lobe thermal information is represented. In the 11 investigated antennal lobes, we found up to 10 different glomeruli in a single specimen responding to temperature stimulation. Both, warm- and cold-sensitive glomeruli could be identified. The thermosensitive glomeruli were mainly located in the medial part of the antennal lobe. Based on the general representation of thermal information in the antennal lobe and functional data on the Sc-glomeruli we conclude that temperature stimuli received by Sc are processed in the medial of the three target glomeruli. The present study reveals an important role of the antennal lobe in temperature processing and links a specific thermosensitive neuron to its central target glomerulus. PMID:21120133

  15. The Postpharyngeal Gland: Specialized Organ for Lipid Nutrition in Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Decio, Pâmela; Vieira, Alexsandro Santana; Dias, Nathalia Baptista; Palma, Mario Sergio; Bueno, Odair Correa

    2016-01-01

    There are several hypotheses about the possible functions of the postpharyngeal gland (PPG) in ants. The proposed functions include roles as cephalic or gastric caeca and diverticulum of the digestive tract, mixing of hydrocarbons, nestmate recognition, feeding larvae, and the accumulation of lipids inside this gland, whose origin is contradictory. The current study aimed to investigate the functions of these glands by examining the protein expression profile of the PPGs of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Mated females received lipid supplementation and their glands were extracted and analyzed using a proteomic approach. The protocol used combined two-dimensional electrophoresis and shotgun strategies, followed by mass spectrometry. We also detected lipid β-oxidation by immunofluorescent marking of acyl-CoA dehydrogenase. Supplying ants with lipids elicited responses in the glandular cells of the PPG; these included increased expression of proteins related to defense mechanisms and signal transduction and reorganization of the cytoskeleton due to cell expansion. In addition, some proteins in PPG were overexpressed, especially those involved in lipid and energy metabolism. Part of the lipids may be reduced, used for the synthesis of fatty alcohol, transported to the hemolymph, or may be used as substrate for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA, which is oxidized to form molecules that drive oxidative phosphorylation and produce energy for cellular metabolic processes. These findings suggest that this organ is specialized for lipid nutrition of adult leaf-cutting ants and characterized like a of diverticulum foregut, with the ability to absorb, store, metabolize, and mobilize lipids to the hemolymph. However, we do not rule out that the PPG may have other functions in other species of ants. PMID:27149618

  16. Regulation and specificity of antifungal metapleural gland secretion in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Yek, Sze Huei; Nash, David R; Jensen, Annette B; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2012-10-22

    Ants have paired metapleural glands (MGs) to produce secretions for prophylactic hygiene. These exocrine glands are particularly well developed in leaf-cutting ants, but whether the ants can actively regulate MG secretion is unknown. In a set of controlled experiments using conidia of five fungi, we show that the ants adjust the amount of MG secretion to the virulence of the fungus with which they are infected. We further applied fixed volumes of MG secretion of ants challenged with constant conidia doses to agar mats of the same fungal species. This showed that inhibition halos were significantly larger for ants challenged with virulent and mild pathogens/weeds than for controls and Escovopsis-challenged ants. We conclude that the MG defence system of leaf-cutting ants has characteristics reminiscent of an additional cuticular immune system, with specific and non-specific components, of which some are constitutive and others induced.

  17. Leaf endophyte load and fungal garden development in leaf-cutting ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Previous work has shown that leaf-cutting ants prefer to cut leaf material that is relatively low in fungal endophyte content. Such a preference suggests that fungal endophytes exact a cost on the ants or on the development of their colonies. We hypothesized that endophytes may play a role in thei...

  18. The Dynamics of Plant Cell-Wall Polysaccharide Decomposition in Leaf-Cutting Ant Fungus Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Harholt, Jesper; Willats, William G. T.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2011-01-01

    The degradation of live plant biomass in fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants is poorly characterised but fundamental for understanding the mutual advantages and efficiency of this obligate nutritional symbiosis. Controversies about the extent to which the garden-symbiont Leucocoprinus gongylophorus degrades cellulose have hampered our understanding of the selection forces that induced large scale herbivory and of the ensuing ecological footprint of these ants. Here we use a recently established technique, based on polysaccharide microarrays probed with antibodies and carbohydrate binding modules, to map the occurrence of cell wall polymers in consecutive sections of the fungus garden of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We show that pectin, xyloglucan and some xylan epitopes are degraded, whereas more highly substituted xylan and cellulose epitopes remain as residuals in the waste material that the ants remove from their fungus garden. These results demonstrate that biomass entering leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens is only partially utilized and explain why disproportionally large amounts of plant material are needed to sustain colony growth. They also explain why substantial communities of microbial and invertebrate symbionts have evolved associations with the dump material from leaf-cutting ant nests, to exploit decomposition niches that the ant garden-fungus does not utilize. Our approach thus provides detailed insight into the nutritional benefits and shortcomings associated with fungus-farming in ants. PMID:21423735

  19. A pest is a pest is a pest? The dilemma of neotropical leaf-cutting ants: Keystone taxa of natural ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fowler, Harold G.; Pagani, Maria Inez; da Silva, Osvaldo Aulino; Forti, Luis Carlos; da Silva, Virgilio Pereira; de Vasconcelos, Heraldo Luis

    1989-11-01

    Leaf-cutting ants of the genera Acromyrmex and Atta are considered the principal polyphagous pests of the Neotropics Although some members of these genera are of economic importance, have a broad geographic distribution, and are extremely good colonizers, others are endemic and closely interact with native ecosystems. Control is generally practiced against any colony, irrespective of its taxonomic status. Indiscriminate control coupled with habitat destruction threatens endemic species with extinction, and, through habitat simplification, favors other pest species. As nests of Atta are large, having several square meters of nest surface, the endemic taxa can be easily used as environmental indicators for natural ecosystems Likewise, the pest species can be used to detect environmental disturbance As these ants are keystone species and easily identified by nonspecialists, efforts should be made to integrate these into viable conservation programs

  20. Shared Escovopsis parasites between leaf-cutting and non-leaf-cutting ants in the higher attine fungus-growing ant symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Meirelles, Lucas A; Solomon, Scott E; Bacci, Mauricio; Wright, April M; Mueller, Ulrich G; Rodrigues, Andre

    2015-09-01

    Fungus-gardening (attine) ants grow fungus for food in protected gardens, which contain beneficial, auxiliary microbes, but also microbes harmful to gardens. Among these potentially pathogenic microorganisms, the most consistently isolated are fungi in the genus Escovopsis, which are thought to co-evolve with ants and their cultivar in a tripartite model. To test clade-to-clade correspondence between Escovopsis and ants in the higher attine symbiosis (including leaf-cutting and non-leaf-cutting ants), we amassed a geographically comprehensive collection of Escovopsis from Mexico to southern Brazil, and reconstructed the corresponding Escovopsis phylogeny. Contrary to previous analyses reporting phylogenetic divergence between Escovopsis from leafcutters and Trachymyrmex ants (non-leafcutter), we found no evidence for such specialization; rather, gardens from leafcutters and non-leafcutters genera can sometimes be infected by closely related strains of Escovopsis, suggesting switches at higher phylogenetic levels than previously reported within the higher attine symbiosis. Analyses identified rare Escovopsis strains that might represent biogeographically restricted endemic species. Phylogenetic patterns correspond to morphological variation of vesicle type (hyphal structures supporting spore-bearing cells), separating Escovopsis with phylogenetically derived cylindrical vesicles from ancestral Escovopsis with globose vesicles. The new phylogenetic insights provide an improved basis for future taxonomic and ecological studies of Escovopsis.

  1. Shared Escovopsis parasites between leaf-cutting and non-leaf-cutting ants in the higher attine fungus-growing ant symbiosis

    PubMed Central

    Meirelles, Lucas A.; Solomon, Scott E.; Bacci, Mauricio; Wright, April M.; Mueller, Ulrich G.; Rodrigues, Andre

    2015-01-01

    Fungus-gardening (attine) ants grow fungus for food in protected gardens, which contain beneficial, auxiliary microbes, but also microbes harmful to gardens. Among these potentially pathogenic microorganisms, the most consistently isolated are fungi in the genus Escovopsis, which are thought to co-evolve with ants and their cultivar in a tripartite model. To test clade-to-clade correspondence between Escovopsis and ants in the higher attine symbiosis (including leaf-cutting and non-leaf-cutting ants), we amassed a geographically comprehensive collection of Escovopsis from Mexico to southern Brazil, and reconstructed the corresponding Escovopsis phylogeny. Contrary to previous analyses reporting phylogenetic divergence between Escovopsis from leafcutters and Trachymyrmex ants (non-leafcutter), we found no evidence for such specialization; rather, gardens from leafcutters and non-leafcutters genera can sometimes be infected by closely related strains of Escovopsis, suggesting switches at higher phylogenetic levels than previously reported within the higher attine symbiosis. Analyses identified rare Escovopsis strains that might represent biogeographically restricted endemic species. Phylogenetic patterns correspond to morphological variation of vesicle type (hyphal structures supporting spore-bearing cells), separating Escovopsis with phylogenetically derived cylindrical vesicles from ancestral Escovopsis with globose vesicles. The new phylogenetic insights provide an improved basis for future taxonomic and ecological studies of Escovopsis. PMID:26473050

  2. Shared Escovopsis parasites between leaf-cutting and non-leaf-cutting ants in the higher attine fungus-growing ant symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Meirelles, Lucas A; Solomon, Scott E; Bacci, Mauricio; Wright, April M; Mueller, Ulrich G; Rodrigues, Andre

    2015-09-01

    Fungus-gardening (attine) ants grow fungus for food in protected gardens, which contain beneficial, auxiliary microbes, but also microbes harmful to gardens. Among these potentially pathogenic microorganisms, the most consistently isolated are fungi in the genus Escovopsis, which are thought to co-evolve with ants and their cultivar in a tripartite model. To test clade-to-clade correspondence between Escovopsis and ants in the higher attine symbiosis (including leaf-cutting and non-leaf-cutting ants), we amassed a geographically comprehensive collection of Escovopsis from Mexico to southern Brazil, and reconstructed the corresponding Escovopsis phylogeny. Contrary to previous analyses reporting phylogenetic divergence between Escovopsis from leafcutters and Trachymyrmex ants (non-leafcutter), we found no evidence for such specialization; rather, gardens from leafcutters and non-leafcutters genera can sometimes be infected by closely related strains of Escovopsis, suggesting switches at higher phylogenetic levels than previously reported within the higher attine symbiosis. Analyses identified rare Escovopsis strains that might represent biogeographically restricted endemic species. Phylogenetic patterns correspond to morphological variation of vesicle type (hyphal structures supporting spore-bearing cells), separating Escovopsis with phylogenetically derived cylindrical vesicles from ancestral Escovopsis with globose vesicles. The new phylogenetic insights provide an improved basis for future taxonomic and ecological studies of Escovopsis. PMID:26473050

  3. Sequential Soil Transport and Its Influence on the Spatial Organisation of Collective Digging in Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Pielström, Steffen; Roces, Flavio

    2013-01-01

    The Chaco leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri (Forel) inhabits large and deep subterranean nests composed of a large number of fungus and refuse chambers. The ants dispose of the excavated soil by forming small pellets that are carried to the surface. For ants in general, the organisation of underground soil transport during nest building remains completely unknown. In the laboratory, we investigated how soil pellets are formed and transported, and whether their occurrence influences the spatial organisation of collective digging. Similar to leaf transport, we discovered size matching between soil pellet mass and carrier mass. Workers observed while digging excavated pellets at a rate of 26 per hour. Each excavator deposited its pellets in an individual cluster, independently of the preferred deposition sites of other excavators. Soil pellets were transported sequentially over 2 m, and the transport involved up to 12 workers belonging to three functionally distinct groups: excavators, several short-distance carriers that dropped the collected pellets after a few centimetres, and long-distance, last carriers that reached the final deposition site. When initiating a new excavation, the proportion of long-distance carriers increased from 18% to 45% within the first five hours, and remained unchanged over more than 20 hours. Accumulated, freshly-excavated pellets significantly influenced the workers' decision where to start digging in a choice experiment. Thus, pellets temporarily accumulated as a result of their sequential transport provide cues that spatially organise collective nest excavation. PMID:23457648

  4. Symbiotic adaptations in the fungal cultivar of leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    De Fine Licht, Henrik H; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Tunlid, Anders

    2014-12-01

    Centuries of artificial selection have dramatically improved the yield of human agriculture; however, strong directional selection also occurs in natural symbiotic interactions. Fungus-growing attine ants cultivate basidiomycete fungi for food. One cultivar lineage has evolved inflated hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Here we show extensive regulation and molecular signals of adaptive evolution in gene trancripts associated with gongylidia biosynthesis, morphogenesis and enzymatic plant cell wall degradation in the leaf-cutting ant cultivar Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. Comparative analysis of staphylae growth morphology and transcriptome-wide expressional and nucleotide divergence indicate that gongylidia provide leaf-cutting ants with essential amino acids and plant-degrading enzymes, and that they may have done so for 20-25 million years without much evolutionary change. These molecular traits and signatures of selection imply that staphylae are highly advanced coevolutionary organs that play pivotal roles in the mutualism between leaf-cutting ants and their fungal cultivars.

  5. Correlation between virulence and genetic structure of Escovopsis strains from leaf-cutting ant colonies in Costa Rica.

    PubMed

    Wallace, Diego E Elizondo; Asensio, Juan G Vargas; Tomás, Adrián A Pinto

    2014-08-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (genera Atta and Acromyrmex) cultivate a specialized fungus for food in underground chambers employing cut plant material as substrate. Parasitism occurs in this agricultural system and plays an important role in colony fitness. The microfungi Escovopsis, a specialized mycoparasite of the fungal cultivar, is highly prevalent among colonies. In this study, we tested the antagonistic activity of several Escovopsis strains from different geographical areas in Costa Rica. We employed a combination of laboratory tests to evaluate virulence, including pure culture challenges, toxicity to fungus garden pieces and subcolony bioassays. We also performed a phylogenetic analysis of these strains in order to correlate their virulence with the genetic structure of this population. The bioassays yielded results consistent between each other and showed significant differences in antagonistic activity among the parasites evaluated. However, no significant differences were found when comparing the results of the bioassays according to the source of the ants' fungal cultivar. The phylogenetic analyses were consistent with these results: whilst the fungal cultivar phylogeny showed a single clade with limited molecular variation, the Escovopsis phylogeny yielded several clades with the most virulent isolates grouping in the same well-supported clade. These results indicate that there are Escovopsis strains better suited to establish their antagonistic effect, whilst the genetic homogeneity of the fungal cultivars limits their ability to modulate Escovopsis antagonism. These findings should be taken into consideration when evaluating the potential of Escovopsis isolates as biocontrol agents for this important agricultural pest in the Neotropics. PMID:24836623

  6. Chemical basis of the synergism and antagonism in microbial communities in the nests of leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Schoenian, Ilka; Spiteller, Michael; Ghaste, Manoj; Wirth, Rainer; Herz, Hubert; Spiteller, Dieter

    2011-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants cultivate the fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, which serves as a major food source. This symbiosis is threatened by microbial pathogens that can severely infect L. gongylophorus. Microbial symbionts of leaf-cutting ants, mainly Pseudonocardia and Streptomyces, support the ants in defending their fungus gardens against infections by supplying antimicrobial and antifungal compounds. The ecological role of microorganisms in the nests of leaf-cutting ants can only be addressed in detail if their secondary metabolites are known. Here, we use an approach for the rapid identification of established bioactive compounds from microorganisms in ecological contexts by combining phylogenetic data, database searches, and liquid chromatography electrospray ionisation high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-HR-MS) screening. Antimycins A1–A4, valinomycins, and actinomycins were identified in this manner from Streptomyces symbionts of leaf-cutting ants. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) imaging revealed the distribution of valinomycin directly on the integument of Acromyrmex echinatior workers. Valinomycins and actinomycins were also directly identified in samples from the waste of A. echinatior and A. niger leaf-cutting ants, suggesting that the compounds exert their antimicrobial and antifungal potential in the nests of leaf-cutting ants. Strong synergistic effects of the secondary meta-bolites produced by ant-associated Streptomyces were observed in the agar diffusion assay against Escovopsis weberi. Actinomycins strongly inhibit soil bacteria as well as other Streptomyces and Pseudonocardia symbionts. The antifungal antimycins are not only active against pathogenic fungi but also the garden fungus L. gongylophorus itself. In conclusion, secondary metabolites of microbial symbionts of leaf-cutting ants contribute to shaping the microbial communities within the nests of leaf-cutting ants. PMID:21245311

  7. Leucoagaricus gongylophorus uses leaf-cutting ants to vector proteolytic enzymes towards new plant substrate.

    PubMed

    Kooij, Pepijn W; Rogowska-Wrzesinska, Adelina; Hoffmann, Daniel; Roepstorff, Peter; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Schiøtt, Morten

    2014-05-01

    The mutualism between leaf-cutting ants and their fungal symbionts revolves around processing and inoculation of fresh leaf pulp in underground fungus gardens, mediated by ant fecal fluid deposited on the newly added plant substrate. As herbivorous feeding often implies that growth is nitrogen limited, we cloned and sequenced six fungal proteases found in the fecal fluid of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior and identified them as two metalloendoproteases, two serine proteases and two aspartic proteases. The metalloendoproteases and serine proteases showed significant activity in fecal fluid at pH values of 5-7, but the aspartic proteases were inactive across a pH range of 3-10. Protease activity disappeared when the ants were kept on a sugar water diet without fungus. Relative to normal mycelium, both metalloendoproteases, both serine proteases and one aspartic protease were upregulated in the gongylidia, specialized hyphal tips whose only known function is to provide food to the ants. These combined results indicate that the enzymes are derived from the ingested fungal tissues. We infer that the five proteases are likely to accelerate protein extraction from plant cells in the leaf pulp that the ants add to the fungus garden, but regulatory functions such as activation of proenzymes are also possible, particularly for the aspartic proteases that were present but without showing activity. The proteases had high sequence similarities to proteolytic enzymes of phytopathogenic fungi, consistent with previous indications of convergent evolution of decomposition enzymes in attine ant fungal symbionts and phytopathogenic fungi.

  8. Density of mushroom body synaptic complexes limits intraspecies brain miniaturization in highly polymorphic leaf-cutting ant workers

    PubMed Central

    Groh, Claudia; Kelber, Christina; Grübel, Kornelia; Rössler, Wolfgang

    2014-01-01

    Hymenoptera possess voluminous mushroom bodies (MBs), brain centres associated with sensory integration, learning and memory. The mushroom body input region (calyx) is organized in distinct synaptic complexes (microglomeruli, MG) that can be quantified to analyse body size-related phenotypic plasticity of synaptic microcircuits in these small brains. Leaf-cutting ant workers (Atta vollenweideri) exhibit an enormous size polymorphism, which makes them outstanding to investigate neuronal adaptations underlying division of labour and brain miniaturization. We particularly asked how size-related division of labour in polymorphic workers is reflected in volume and total numbers of MG in olfactory calyx subregions. Whole brains of mini, media and large workers were immunolabelled with anti-synapsin antibodies, and mushroom body volumes as well as densities and absolute numbers of MG were determined by confocal imaging and three-dimensional analyses. The total brain volume and absolute volumes of olfactory mushroom body subdivisions were positively correlated with head widths, but mini workers had significantly larger MB to total brain ratios. Interestingly, the density of olfactory MG was remarkably independent from worker size. Consequently, absolute numbers of olfactory MG still were approximately three times higher in large compared with mini workers. The results show that the maximum packing density of synaptic microcircuits may represent a species-specific limit to brain miniaturization. PMID:24807257

  9. Caste-specific RNA editomes in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior

    PubMed Central

    Li, Qiye; Wang, Zongji; Lian, Jinmin; Schiøtt, Morten; Jin, Lijun; Zhang, Pei; Zhang, Yanyan; Nygaard, Sanne; Peng, Zhiyu; Zhou, Yang; Deng, Yuan; Zhang, Wenwei; Boomsma, Jacobus J.; Zhang, Guojie

    2014-01-01

    Eusocial insects have evolved the capacity to generate adults with distinct morphological, reproductive and behavioural phenotypes from the same genome. Recent studies suggest that RNA editing might enhance the diversity of gene products at the post-transcriptional level, particularly to induce functional changes in the nervous system. Using head samples from the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior, we compare RNA editomes across eusocial castes, identifying ca. 11,000 RNA editing sites in gynes, large workers and small workers. Those editing sites map to 800 genes functionally enriched for neurotransmission, circadian rhythm, temperature response, RNA splicing and carboxylic acid biosynthesis. Most A. echinatior editing sites are species specific, but 8–23% are conserved across ant subfamilies and likely to have been important for the evolution of eusociality in ants. The level of editing varies for the same site between castes, suggesting that RNA editing might be a general mechanism that shapes caste behaviour in ants. PMID:25266559

  10. Trade-offs in group living: transmission and disease resistance in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed Central

    Hughes, William O H; Eilenberg, Jørgen; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2002-01-01

    Sociality can be associated with significant costs due to the increased risk of disease transmission. However, in some organisms the costs may be offset by benefits due to improvements in defences against parasites. To examine this possible trade-off between infection risk and disease resistance, we used Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants and the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae as the model system. Ants exposed to the parasite were found to have substantially improved survival when they were kept with nest-mates, while the cost of being in a group in terms of increased disease transmission was very low. The efficiency of transmission is described by the transmission parameter, which decreased with increasing host density showing that transmission rates are inversely density dependent. Both grooming and antibiotic secretions appeared to be important in resistance against the parasite, with the defences of small workers being particularly effective. The results indicate that leaf-cutting ant colonies may have much greater resistance to disease than would be predicted from the high densities of host individuals within them. Unlike most organisms, group living in these ants may actually be associated with a net benefit in terms of disease dynamics. PMID:12350269

  11. Two fungal symbioses collide: endophytic fungi are not welcome in leaf-cutting ant gardens

    PubMed Central

    Van Bael, Sunshine A.; Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Valencia, Mariana C.; Rojas, Enith I.; Wcislo, William T.; Herre, Edward A.

    2009-01-01

    Interactions among the component members of different symbioses are not well studied. For example, leaf-cutting ants maintain an obligate symbiosis with their fungal garden, while the leaf material they provide to their garden is usually filled with endophytic fungi. The ants and their cultivar may interact with hundreds of endophytic fungal species, yet little is known about these interactions. Experimental manipulations showed that (i) ants spend more time cutting leaves from a tropical vine, Merremia umbellata, with high versus low endophyte densities, (ii) ants reduce the amount of endophytic fungi in leaves before planting them in their gardens, (iii) the ants' fungal cultivar inhibits the growth of most endophytes tested. Moreover, the inhibition by the ants' cultivar was relatively greater for more rapidly growing endophyte strains that could potentially out-compete or overtake the garden. Our results suggest that endophytes are not welcome in the garden, and that the ants and their cultivar combine ant hygiene behaviour with fungal inhibition to reduce endophyte activity in the nest. PMID:19364739

  12. Behavioral Strategies of Phorid Parasitoids and Responses of Their Hosts, the Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Elizalde, Luciana; Folgarait, Patricia Julia

    2012-01-01

    Host-searching and oviposition behaviors of parasitoids, and defensive responses of the hosts, are fundamental in shaping the ecology of host-parasitoid interactions. In order to uncover key behavioral features for the little known interactions between phorid parasitoids (Diptera: Phoridae) and their leaf-cutting ant hosts (Formicidae: Attini), host-related behavioral strategies (i.e., host searching and oviposition) for 13 phorid species, and host defensive responses (i.e., hitchhikers and particular body postures) for 11 ant species, were studied. Data was collected at 14 localities, one of them characterized by its high species richness for this host-parasitoid system. Phorid species showed both great variation and specificity in attacking behaviors. Some chose their hosts using either an ambush or an actively searching strategy, while some species attacked ants on different body parts, and specialized on ants performing different tasks, such as when ants were foraging, removing wastes to refuse piles, or repairing the nest. Combining all the behaviors recorded, most phorid species differed in performance in at least one, making it possible to recognize species in the field through their behavior. Phorid species that attacked hosts with greater activity levels showed overall higher attack rates, although there was no significant correlation between attack rates by most phorid species and ant activity outside the nest while parasitoids were attacking. The presence of phorids was a significant determinant for the presence of defensive behaviors by the ants. Although ant species varied in the incidence levels of these defensive behaviors, most ant species reacted against different phorids by utilizing similar behaviors, in contrast to what parasitoids do. General features of the observed phorid-ant interactions were parasitoid specialization and corresponding high interspecific variation in their behaviors, while their hosts showed generalized responses to attacks

  13. Simple and rapid CE-UV method for the assessment of trail pheromone compounds of leaf-cutting ants' venom glands.

    PubMed

    Leitão, Amanda Araujo; Miranda, Paulo Cesar Muniz de Lacerda; Simionato, Ana Valéria Colnaghi

    2011-04-01

    Leaf-cutting ants cause large losses in several crops around the world. In the ant species Atta sexdens, each colony comprises up to 5 million individuals. In order to keep a close connection among such a large number of individuals, an efficient chemical communication system is necessary. Among other different substances, these animals use alkylpyrazines to mark their trails and to guide ant workers from the nest to their sources of food. In this study, CE-UV was used to apply a method for qualitative analysis of venom gland components of leaf-cutting ants. Mobility of these compounds proved to be a function of the ionization capability of these bases as well as their volumes. Migration order was thoroughly explained in terms of such parameters. The best analysis conditions were achieved with a BGE composed by 0.8% formic acid plus 20% methanol in water, hydrodynamic injection, and application of external pressure. Such analysis conditions may be easily applied in CE-MS analyses as well. CE-UV analyses proved to be as adequate as GC to analyze such compounds due to system detectability (LD ≅ 0.005 mmol/L), separation efficiency (from 5.07×10(4) to 1.23×10(5) theoretical plates), and resolution (minimum of 2.35). In addition, analysis time was ca. 15  min, which shows another advantage of CE analysis when compared with GC. Although the analytes are found in concentrations as low as 50  ng/venom glands, four putative pyrazine ring moiety substances could be detected in real samples, due to sample stacking and use of a capillary with extended detection cell. PMID:21462224

  14. Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants Have Simple Gut Microbiota with Nitrogen-Fixing Potential

    PubMed Central

    Zhukova, Mariya; Hansen, Lars H.; Sørensen, Søren J.; Schiøtt, Morten

    2015-01-01

    Ants and termites have independently evolved obligate fungus-farming mutualisms, but their gardening procedures are fundamentally different, as the termites predigest their plant substrate whereas the ants deposit it directly on the fungus garden. Fungus-growing termites retained diverse gut microbiota, but bacterial gut communities in fungus-growing leaf-cutting ants have not been investigated, so it is unknown whether and how they are specialized on an exclusively fungal diet. Here we characterized the gut bacterial community of Panamanian Acromyrmex species, which are dominated by only four bacterial taxa: Wolbachia, Rhizobiales, and two Entomoplasmatales taxa. We show that the Entomoplasmatales can be both intracellular and extracellular across different gut tissues, Wolbachia is mainly but not exclusively intracellular, and the Rhizobiales species is strictly extracellular and confined to the gut lumen, where it forms biofilms along the hindgut cuticle supported by an adhesive matrix of polysaccharides. Tetracycline diets eliminated the Entomoplasmatales symbionts but hardly affected Wolbachia and only moderately reduced the Rhizobiales, suggesting that the latter are protected by the biofilm matrix. We show that the Rhizobiales symbiont produces bacterial NifH proteins that have been associated with the fixation of nitrogen, suggesting that these compartmentalized hindgut symbionts alleviate nutritional constraints emanating from an exclusive fungus garden diet reared on a substrate of leaves. PMID:26048932

  15. Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants Have Simple Gut Microbiota with Nitrogen-Fixing Potential.

    PubMed

    Sapountzis, Panagiotis; Zhukova, Mariya; Hansen, Lars H; Sørensen, Søren J; Schiøtt, Morten; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2015-08-15

    Ants and termites have independently evolved obligate fungus-farming mutualisms, but their gardening procedures are fundamentally different, as the termites predigest their plant substrate whereas the ants deposit it directly on the fungus garden. Fungus-growing termites retained diverse gut microbiota, but bacterial gut communities in fungus-growing leaf-cutting ants have not been investigated, so it is unknown whether and how they are specialized on an exclusively fungal diet. Here we characterized the gut bacterial community of Panamanian Acromyrmex species, which are dominated by only four bacterial taxa: Wolbachia, Rhizobiales, and two Entomoplasmatales taxa. We show that the Entomoplasmatales can be both intracellular and extracellular across different gut tissues, Wolbachia is mainly but not exclusively intracellular, and the Rhizobiales species is strictly extracellular and confined to the gut lumen, where it forms biofilms along the hindgut cuticle supported by an adhesive matrix of polysaccharides. Tetracycline diets eliminated the Entomoplasmatales symbionts but hardly affected Wolbachia and only moderately reduced the Rhizobiales, suggesting that the latter are protected by the biofilm matrix. We show that the Rhizobiales symbiont produces bacterial NifH proteins that have been associated with the fixation of nitrogen, suggesting that these compartmentalized hindgut symbionts alleviate nutritional constraints emanating from an exclusive fungus garden diet reared on a substrate of leaves. PMID:26048932

  16. Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants Have Simple Gut Microbiota with Nitrogen-Fixing Potential.

    PubMed

    Sapountzis, Panagiotis; Zhukova, Mariya; Hansen, Lars H; Sørensen, Søren J; Schiøtt, Morten; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2015-08-15

    Ants and termites have independently evolved obligate fungus-farming mutualisms, but their gardening procedures are fundamentally different, as the termites predigest their plant substrate whereas the ants deposit it directly on the fungus garden. Fungus-growing termites retained diverse gut microbiota, but bacterial gut communities in fungus-growing leaf-cutting ants have not been investigated, so it is unknown whether and how they are specialized on an exclusively fungal diet. Here we characterized the gut bacterial community of Panamanian Acromyrmex species, which are dominated by only four bacterial taxa: Wolbachia, Rhizobiales, and two Entomoplasmatales taxa. We show that the Entomoplasmatales can be both intracellular and extracellular across different gut tissues, Wolbachia is mainly but not exclusively intracellular, and the Rhizobiales species is strictly extracellular and confined to the gut lumen, where it forms biofilms along the hindgut cuticle supported by an adhesive matrix of polysaccharides. Tetracycline diets eliminated the Entomoplasmatales symbionts but hardly affected Wolbachia and only moderately reduced the Rhizobiales, suggesting that the latter are protected by the biofilm matrix. We show that the Rhizobiales symbiont produces bacterial NifH proteins that have been associated with the fixation of nitrogen, suggesting that these compartmentalized hindgut symbionts alleviate nutritional constraints emanating from an exclusive fungus garden diet reared on a substrate of leaves.

  17. Immune defense in leaf-cutting ants: a cross-fostering approach.

    PubMed

    Armitage, Sophie A O; Broch, Jens F; Marín, Hermogenes Fernández; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2011-06-01

    To ameliorate the impact of disease, social insects combine individual innate immune defenses with collective social defenses. This implies that there are different levels of selection acting on investment in immunity, each with their own trade-offs. We present the results of a cross-fostering experiment designed to address the influences of genotype and social rearing environment upon individual and social immune defenses. We used a multiply mating leaf-cutting ant, enabling us to test for patriline effects within a colony, as well as cross-colony matriline effects. The worker's father influenced both individual innate immunity (constitutive antibacterial activity) and the size of the metapleural gland, which secretes antimicrobial compounds and functions in individual and social defense, indicating multiple mating could have important consequences for both defense types. However, the primarily social defense, a Pseudonocardia bacteria that helps to control pathogens in the ants' fungus garden, showed a significant colony of origin by rearing environment interaction, whereby ants that acquired the bacteria of a foster colony obtained a less abundant cover of bacteria: one explanation for this pattern would be co-adaptation between host colonies and their vertically transmitted mutualist. These results illustrate the complexity of the selection pressures that affect the expression of multilevel immune defenses.

  18. Sperm mixing in the polyandrous leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior

    PubMed Central

    Stürup, Marlene; Nash, David R; Hughes, William O H; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2014-01-01

    The insemination of queens by sperm from multiple males (polyandry) has evolved in a number of eusocial insect lineages despite the likely costs of the behavior. The selective advantages in terms of colony fitness must therefore also be significant and there is now good evidence that polyandry increases genetic variation among workers, thereby improving the efficiency of division of labor, resistance against disease, and diluting the impact of genetically incompatible matings. However, these advantages will only be maximized if the sperm of initially discrete ejaculates are mixed when stored in queen spermathecae and used for egg fertilization in a “fair raffle.” Remarkably, however, very few studies have addressed the level of sperm mixing in social insects. Here we analyzed sperm use over time in the highly polyandrous leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We genotyped cohorts of workers produced either 2 months apart or up to over a year apart, and batches of eggs laid up to over 2 years apart, and tested whether fluctuations in patriline distributions deviated from random. We show that the representation of father males in both egg and worker cohorts does not change over time, consistent with obligatorily polyandrous queens maximizing their fitness when workers are as genetically diverse as possible. PMID:25478149

  19. Draft Genome Sequence of the Ant-Associated Fungus Phialophora attae (CBS 131958)

    PubMed Central

    Moreno, Leandro F.; Stielow, J. Benjamin; de Vries, Michel; Weiss, Vinicius A.; Vicente, Vania A.

    2015-01-01

    The black yeast Phialophora attae was isolated from the cuticle of tropical ant gynes. The ant-fungus association is sustained due to symbiotic evolutionary adaptations that allow fungal assimilation and tolerance of toxic compounds produced by the ant. The genome sequence of the first ant-associated fungus, P. attae, is presented here. PMID:26586868

  20. Considerations for assessing maximum critical temperatures in small ectothermic animals: insights from leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Ribeiro, Pedro Leite; Camacho, Agustín; Navas, Carlos Arturo

    2012-01-01

    The thermal limits of individual animals were originally proposed as a link between animal physiology and thermal ecology. Although this link is valid in theory, the evaluation of physiological tolerances involves some problems that are the focus of this study. One rationale was that heating rates shall influence upper critical limits, so that ecological thermal limits need to consider experimental heating rates. In addition, if thermal limits are not surpassed in experiments, subsequent tests of the same individual should yield similar results or produce evidence of hardening. Finally, several non-controlled variables such as time under experimental conditions and procedures may affect results. To analyze these issues we conducted an integrative study of upper critical temperatures in a single species, the ant Atta sexdens rubropiosa, an animal model providing large numbers of individuals of diverse sizes but similar genetic makeup. Our specific aims were to test the 1) influence of heating rates in the experimental evaluation of upper critical temperature, 2) assumptions of absence of physical damage and reproducibility, and 3) sources of variance often overlooked in the thermal-limits literature; and 4) to introduce some experimental approaches that may help researchers to separate physiological and methodological issues. The upper thermal limits were influenced by both heating rates and body mass. In the latter case, the effect was physiological rather than methodological. The critical temperature decreased during subsequent tests performed on the same individual ants, even one week after the initial test. Accordingly, upper thermal limits may have been overestimated by our (and typical) protocols. Heating rates, body mass, procedures independent of temperature and other variables may affect the estimation of upper critical temperatures. Therefore, based on our data, we offer suggestions to enhance the quality of measurements, and offer recommendations to

  1. Learning through the waste: olfactory cues from the colony refuse influence plant preferences in foraging leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Arenas, Andrés; Roces, Flavio

    2016-08-15

    Leaf-cutting ants learn to avoid plants initially harvested if they prove to be harmful for their symbiotic fungus once incorporated into the nest. At this point, waste particles removed from the fungus garden are likely to contain cues originating from both the unsuitable plant and the damaged fungus. We investigated whether leaf-cutting ant foragers learn to avoid unsuitable plants solely through the colony waste. We fed subcolonies of Acromymex ambiguus privet leaves treated with a fungicide undetectable to the ants, then collected the produced waste, and placed it into the fungus chamber of naive subcolonies. In individual choice tests, naive foragers preferred privet leaves before waste was put into the fungus chamber, but avoided them afterwards. Evidence on the influence of olfactory cues from the waste on decision making by foragers was obtained by scenting and transferring waste particles from subcolonies that had been fed either fungicide-treated or untreated leaves. In choice experiments, foragers from subcolonies given scented waste originating from fungicide-treated leaves collected fewer sugared paper discs with that scent compared with foragers from subcolonies given scented waste from untreated leaves. The results indicate that foragers learn to avoid plants unsuitable for the fungus by associating plant odours and cues from the damaged fungus that are present in waste particles. It is argued that waste particles may contribute to spread information about noxious plants for the fungus within the colony. PMID:27284068

  2. Use of Seeds as Fungus Garden Substrate Changes the Organization of Labor Among Leaf-Cutting Ant Workers.

    PubMed

    Hastenreiter, I N; Sales, T A; Camargo, R S; Forti, L C; Lopes, J F S

    2015-08-01

    Seeds of different plant species constitute an alternative but also significant substrate that leaf-cutting ants use to cultivate their fungus garden. However, how they are processed inside the nest and if their use implies differential allocation of worker size classes are still poorly known. Using laboratory colonies of Acromyrmex subterraneus (Forel) as a model, the behaviors related to the processing of three different seeds (sesame, guava, and grape) as fungus substrate were listed. At the same time, we measured how each worker size class contributed to the execution of these behaviors by registering their respective frequency. It was found that medium-sized (1.2 > head width < 1.6 mm) and minimum-sized (head width <1.1 mm) workers assumed the role of incorporation for sesame and grape seeds, respectively. Major-sized workers (head width >1.7 mm) were concentrated on licking and holding guava seeds. Tegument removal was the only task observed that differs between treatment of seeds and treatment of leaves before their incorporation, as described in the literature. It was verified that different species of seeds imply a differential allocation of worker size classes and the inclusion or exclusion of some tasks from the behavioral repertoire. Regardless of the substrate type, leaf-cutting ant workers follow a coordinated and specialized procedure to cultivate the fungus garden but always maintain a high degree of cooperation. PMID:26050554

  3. Interaction between Workers during a Short Time Window Is Required for Bacterial Symbiont Transmission in Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Marsh, Sarah E.; Poulsen, Michael; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián; Currie, Cameron R.

    2014-01-01

    Stable associations between partners over time are critical for the evolution of mutualism. Hosts employ a variety of mechanisms to maintain specificity with bacterial associates. Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants farm a fungal cultivar as their primary nutrient source. These ants also carry a Pseudonocardia Actinobacteria exosymbiont on their bodies that produces antifungal compounds that help inhibit specialized parasites of the ants' fungal garden. Major workers emerge from their pupal cases (eclose) symbiont-free, but exhibit visible Actinobacterial coverage within 14 days post-eclosion. Using subcolony experiments, we investigate exosymbiont transmission within Acromyrmex colonies. We found successful transmission to newly eclosed major workers fostered by major workers with visible Actinobacteria in all cases (100% acquiring, n = 19). In contrast, newly eclosed major workers reared without exosymbiont-carrying major workers did not acquire visible Actinobacteria (0% acquiring, n = 73). We further show that the majority of ants exposed to major workers with exosymbionts within 2 hours of eclosion acquired bacteria (60.7% acquiring, n = 28), while normal acquisition did not occur when exposure occurred later than 2 hours post-eclosion (0% acquiring, n = 18). Our findings show that transmission of exosymbionts to newly eclosed major workers occurs through interactions with exosymbiont-covered workers within a narrow time window after eclosion. This mode of transmission likely helps ensure the defensive function within colonies, as well as specificity and partner fidelity in the ant-bacterium association. PMID:25058579

  4. Interaction between workers during a short time window is required for bacterial symbiont transmission in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Marsh, Sarah E; Poulsen, Michael; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián; Currie, Cameron R

    2014-01-01

    Stable associations between partners over time are critical for the evolution of mutualism. Hosts employ a variety of mechanisms to maintain specificity with bacterial associates. Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants farm a fungal cultivar as their primary nutrient source. These ants also carry a Pseudonocardia Actinobacteria exosymbiont on their bodies that produces antifungal compounds that help inhibit specialized parasites of the ants' fungal garden. Major workers emerge from their pupal cases (eclose) symbiont-free, but exhibit visible Actinobacterial coverage within 14 days post-eclosion. Using subcolony experiments, we investigate exosymbiont transmission within Acromyrmex colonies. We found successful transmission to newly eclosed major workers fostered by major workers with visible Actinobacteria in all cases (100% acquiring, n = 19). In contrast, newly eclosed major workers reared without exosymbiont-carrying major workers did not acquire visible Actinobacteria (0% acquiring, n = 73). We further show that the majority of ants exposed to major workers with exosymbionts within 2 hours of eclosion acquired bacteria (60.7% acquiring, n = 28), while normal acquisition did not occur when exposure occurred later than 2 hours post-eclosion (0% acquiring, n = 18). Our findings show that transmission of exosymbionts to newly eclosed major workers occurs through interactions with exosymbiont-covered workers within a narrow time window after eclosion. This mode of transmission likely helps ensure the defensive function within colonies, as well as specificity and partner fidelity in the ant-bacterium association. PMID:25058579

  5. Behavioural effects of juvenile hormone and their influence on division of labour in leaf-cutting ant societies.

    PubMed

    Norman, Victoria C; Hughes, William O H

    2016-01-01

    Division of labour in social insects represents a major evolutionary transition, but the physiological mechanisms that regulate this are still little understood. Experimental work with honey bees, and correlational analyses in other social insects, have implicated juvenile hormone (JH) as a regulatory factor, but direct experimental evidence of behavioural effects of JH in social insects is generally lacking. Here, we used experimental manipulation of JH to show that raised JH levels in leaf-cutting ants results in workers becoming more active, phototactic and threat responsive, and engaging in more extranidal activity - behavioural changes that we show are all characteristic of the transition from intranidal work to foraging. These behavioural effects on division of labour suggest that the JH mediation of behaviour occurs across multiple independent evolutions of eusociality, and may be a key endocrine regulator of the division of labour which has produced the remarkable ecological and evolutionary success of social insects. PMID:26739685

  6. Branching angles reflect a trade-off between reducing trail maintenance costs or travel distances in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Farji-Brener, Alejandro Gustavo; Chinchilla, Federico; Umaña, María Natalia; Ocasio-Torres, Maríia Elena; Chauta-Mellizo, Alexander; Acosta-Rojas, Diana; Marinaro, Sofía; Curth, Mónica de Torres; Amador-Vargas, Sabrina

    2015-02-01

    The design of transport paths in consuming entities that use routes to access food should be under strong selective pressures to reduce costs and increase benefits. We studied the adaptive nature of branching angles in foraging trail networks of the two most abundant tropical leaf-cutting ant species. We mathematically assessed how these angles should reflect the relative weight of the pressure for reducing either trail maintenance effort or traveling distances. Bifurcation angles of ant foraging trails strongly differed depending on the location of the nests. Ant colonies in open areas showed more acute branching angles, which best shorten travel distances but create longer new trail sections to maintain than a perpendicular branch, suggesting that trail maintenance costs are smaller compared to the benefit of reduced traveling distance. Conversely, ant colonies in forest showed less acute branching angles, indicating that maintenance costs are of larger importance relative to the benefits of shortening travel distances. The trail pattern evident in forests may be attributable to huge amounts of litterfall that .increase trail maintenance costs, and the abundant canopy cover that reduces traveling costs by mitigating direct sunlight and rain. These results suggest that branching angles represent a trade-off between reducing maintenance work and shortening travel distances, illustrating how animal constructions can adjust to diverse environmental conditions. This idea may help to understand diverse networks systems, including urban travel networks. PMID:26240872

  7. The genome of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior suggests key adaptations to advanced social life and fungus farming

    PubMed Central

    Nygaard, Sanne; Zhang, Guojie; Schiøtt, Morten; Li, Cai; Wurm, Yannick; Hu, Haofu; Zhou, Jiajian; Ji, Lu; Qiu, Feng; Rasmussen, Morten; Pan, Hailin; Hauser, Frank; Krogh, Anders; Grimmelikhuijzen, Cornelis J.P.; Wang, Jun; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2011-01-01

    We present a high-quality (>100× depth) Illumina genome sequence of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior, a model species for symbiosis and reproductive conflict studies. We compare this genome with three previously sequenced genomes of ants from different subfamilies and focus our analyses on aspects of the genome likely to be associated with known evolutionary changes. The first is the specialized fungal diet of A. echinatior, where we find gene loss in the ant's arginine synthesis pathway, loss of detoxification genes, and expansion of a group of peptidase proteins. One of these is a unique ant-derived contribution to the fecal fluid, which otherwise consists of “garden manuring” fungal enzymes that are unaffected by ant digestion. The second is multiple mating of queens and ejaculate competition, which may be associated with a greatly expanded nardilysin-like peptidase gene family. The third is sex determination, where we could identify only a single homolog of the feminizer gene. As other ants and the honeybee have duplications of this gene, we hypothesize that this may partly explain the frequent production of diploid male larvae in A. echinatior. The fourth is the evolution of eusociality, where we find a highly conserved ant-specific profile of neuropeptide genes that may be related to caste determination. These first analyses of the A. echinatior genome indicate that considerable genetic changes are likely to have accompanied the transition from hunter-gathering to agricultural food production 50 million years ago, and the transition from single to multiple queen mating 10 million years ago. PMID:21719571

  8. Social life and sanitary risks: evolutionary and current ecological conditions determine waste management in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Farji-Brener, Alejandro G; Elizalde, Luciana; Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Amador-Vargas, Sabrina

    2016-05-25

    Adequate waste management is vital for the success of social life, because waste accumulation increases sanitary risks in dense societies. We explored why different leaf-cutting ants (LCA) species locate their waste in internal nest chambers or external piles, including ecological context and accounting for phylogenetic relations. We propose that waste location depends on whether the environmental conditions enhance or reduce the risk of infection. We obtained the geographical range, habitat and refuse location of LCA from published literature, and experimentally determined whether pathogens on ant waste survived to the high soil temperatures typical of xeric habitats. The habitat of the LCA determined waste location after phylogenetic correction: species with external waste piles mainly occur in xeric environments, whereas those with internal waste chambers mainly inhabit more humid habitats. The ancestral reconstruction suggests that dumping waste externally is less derived than digging waste nest chambers. Empirical results showed that high soil surface temperatures reduce pathogen prevalence from LCA waste. We proposed that LCA living in environments unfavourable for pathogens (i.e. xeric habitats) avoid digging costs by dumping the refuse above ground. Conversely, in environments suitable for pathogens, LCA species prevent the spread of diseases by storing waste underground, presumably, a behaviour that contributed to the colonization of humid habitats. These results highlight the adaptation of organisms to the hygienic challenges of social living, and illustrate how sanitary behaviours can result from a combination of evolutionary history and current environmental conditions. PMID:27226469

  9. Fungal communities in gardens of the leafcutter ant Atta cephalotes in forest and cabruca agrosystems of southern Bahia State (Brazil).

    PubMed

    Reis, Bárbara Monique dos Santos; Silva, Aline; Alvarez, Martín Roberto; Oliveira, Tássio Brito de; Rodrigues, Andre

    2015-12-01

    Leaf-cutting ants interact with several fungi in addition to the fungal symbiont they cultivate for food. Here, we assessed alien fungal communities in colonies of Atta cephalotes. Fungus garden fragments were sampled from colonies in the Atlantic Rainforest and in a cabruca agrosystem in the state of Bahia (Brazil) in two distinct periods to evaluate whether differences in nest habitat influence the diversity of fungi in the ant colonies. We recovered a total of 403 alien fungi isolates from 628 garden fragments. The prevalent taxa found in these samples were Escovopsis sp. (26 %), Escovopsioides nivea (24 %), and Trichoderma spirale (10.9 %). Fungal diversity was similar between the colonies sampled in both areas suggesting that ants focus on reducing loads of alien fungi in the fungus gardens instead of avoiding specific fungi. However, fungal taxa composition differed between colonies sampled in the two areas and between the sampling periods. These differences are likely explained by the availability of plant substrates available for foraging over habitats and periods. Ordination analysis further supported that sampling period was the main attribute for community structuring but also revealed that additional factors may explain the structuring of fungal communities in colonies of A. cephalotes. PMID:26615740

  10. Yet More “Weeds” in the Garden: Fungal Novelties from Nests of Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Augustin, Juliana O.; Groenewald, Johannes Z.; Nascimento, Robson J.; Mizubuti, Eduardo S. G.; Barreto, Robert W.; Elliot, Simon L.; Evans, Harry C.

    2013-01-01

    Background Symbiotic relationships modulate the evolution of living organisms in all levels of biological organization. A notable example of symbiosis is that of attine ants (Attini; Formicidae: Hymenoptera) and their fungal cultivars (Lepiotaceae and Pterulaceae; Agaricales: Basidiomycota). In recent years, this mutualism has emerged as a model system for studying coevolution, speciation, and multitrophic interactions. Ubiquitous in this ant-fungal symbiosis is the “weedy” fungus Escovopsis (Hypocreales: Ascomycota), known only as a mycoparasite of attine fungal gardens. Despite interest in its biology, ecology and molecular phylogeny—noting, especially, the high genetic diversity encountered—which has led to a steady flow of publications over the past decade, only two species of Escovopsis have formally been described. Methods and Results We sampled from fungal gardens and garden waste (middens) of nests of the leaf-cutting ant genus Acromyrmex in a remnant of subtropical Atlantic rainforest in Minas Gerais, Brazil. In culture, distinct morphotypes of Escovopsis sensu lato were recognized. Using both morphological and molecular analyses, three new species of Escovopsis were identified. These are described and illustrated herein—E. lentecrescens, E. microspora, and E. moelleri—together with a re-description of the genus and the type species, E. weberi. The new genus Escovopsioides is erected for a fourth morphotype. We identify, for the first time, a mechanism for horizontal transmission via middens. Conclusions The present study makes a start at assigning names and formal descriptions to these specific fungal parasites of attine nests. Based on the results of this exploratory and geographically-restricted survey, we expect there to be many more species of the genus Escovopsis and its relatives associated with nests of both the lower and higher Attini throughout their neotropical range, as suggested in previous studies. PMID:24376525

  11. Ectosymbionts and immunity in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus.

    PubMed

    de Souza, Danival José; Lenoir, Alain; Kasuya, Maria Catarina Megumi; Ribeiro, Myriam Marques Ramos; Devers, Séverine; Couceiro, Joel da Cruz; Della Lucia, Terezinha Maria Castro

    2013-02-01

    Associations with symbiotic organisms can serve as a strategy for social insects to resist pathogens. Antibiotics produced by attine ectosymbionts (Actinobacteria) suppress the growth of Escovopsis spp., the specialized parasite of attine fungus gardens. Our objective was to evaluate whether the presence or absence of symbiotic actinobacteria covering the whole ant cuticle is related to differential immunocompetence, respiratory rate and cuticular hydrocarbons (CHs). We evaluated these parameters in three worker groups of Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus: External workers (EXT), internal workers with actinobacteria covering the whole body (INB) and internal workers without actinobacteria covering the whole body (INØ). We also eliminated the actinobacteria by antibiotic treatment and examined worker encapsulation response. INB ants showed lower rates of encapsulation and respiration than did the EXT and INØ ants. The lower encapsulation rate did not seem to be a cost imposed by actinomycetes because the elimination of the actinomycetes did not increase the encapsulation rate. Instead, we propose that actinobacteria confer protection to young workers until the maturation of their immune system. Actinobacteria do not seem to change nestmate recognition in these colonies. Although it is known that actinobacteria have a specific action against Escovopsis spp., our studies, along with other independent studies, indicate that actinomycetes may also be important for the individual health of the workers. PMID:23207105

  12. Caste-specific expression of genetic variation in the size of antibiotic-producing glands of leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Hughes, W. O. H.; Bot, A. N. M.; Boomsma, J. J.

    2010-01-01

    Social insect castes represent some of the most spectacular examples of phenotypic plasticity, with each caste being associated with different environmental conditions during their life. Here we examine the level of genetic variation in different castes of two polyandrous species of Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ant for the antibiotic-producing metapleural gland, which has a major role in defence against parasites. Gland size increases allometrically. The small workers that play the main role in disease defence have relatively large glands compared with larger workers, while the glands of gynes are substantially larger than those of any workers, for their body size. The gland size of large workers varies significantly between patrilines in both Acromyrmex echinatior and Acromyrmex octospinosus. We also examined small workers and gynes in A. echinatior, again finding genetic variation in gland size in these castes. There were significant positive relationships between the gland sizes of patrilines in the different castes, indicating that the genetic mechanism underpinning the patriline variation has remained similar across phenotypes. The level of expressed genetic variation decreased from small workers to large workers to gynes. This is consistent with the hypothesis that there is individual selection on disease defence in founding queens and colony-level selection on disease defence in the worker castes. PMID:19864289

  13. Density-dependence and within-host competition in a semelparous parasite of leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Hughes, William OH; Petersen, Klaus S; Ugelvig, Line V; Pedersen, Dorthe; Thomsen, Lene; Poulsen, Michael; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2004-01-01

    Background Parasite heterogeneity and within-host competition are thought to be important factors influencing the dynamics of host-parasite relationships. Yet, while there have been many theoretical investigations of how these factors may act, empirical data is more limited. We investigated the effects of parasite density and heterogeneity on parasite virulence and fitness using four strains of the entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae var. anisopliae, and its leaf-cutting ant host Acromyrmex echinatior as the model system. Results The relationship between parasite density and infection was sigmoidal, with there being an invasion threshold for an infection to occur (an Allee effect). Although spore production was positively density-dependent, parasite fitness decreased with increasing parasite density, indicating within-host scramble competition. The dynamics differed little between the four strains tested. In mixed infections of three strains the infection-growth dynamics were unaffected by parasite heterogeneity. Conclusions The strength of within-host competition makes dispersal the best strategy for the parasite. Parasite heterogeneity may not have effected virulence or the infection dynamics either because the most virulent strain outcompeted the others, or because the interaction involved scramble competition that was impervious to parasite heterogeneity. The dynamics observed may be common for virulent parasites, such as Metarhizium, that produce aggregated transmission stages. Such parasites make useful models for investigating infection dynamics and the impact of parasite competition. PMID:15541185

  14. Use of geostatistics to determine the spatial distribution and infestation rate of leaf-cutting ant nests (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in eucalyptus plantations.

    PubMed

    Lasmar, O; Zanetti, R; dos Santos, A; Fernandes, B V

    2012-08-01

    One of the fundamental steps in pest sampling is the assessment of the population distribution in the field. Several studies have investigated the distribution and appropriate sampling methods for leaf-cutting ants; however, more reliable methods are still required, such as those that use geostatistics. The objective of this study was to determine the spatial distribution and infestation rate of leaf-cutting ant nests in eucalyptus plantations by using geostatistics. The study was carried out in 2008 in two eucalyptus stands in Paraopeba, Minas Gerais, Brazil. All of the nests in the studied area were located and used for the generation of GIS maps, and the spatial pattern of distribution was determined considering the number and size of nests. Each analysis and map was made using the R statistics program and the geoR package. The nest spatial distribution in a savanna area of Minas Gerais was clustered to a certain extent. The models generated allowed the production of kriging maps of areas infested with leaf-cutting ants, where chemical intervention would be necessary, reducing the control costs, impact on humans, and the environment.

  15. The fungal symbiont of Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants expresses the full spectrum of genes to degrade cellulose and other plant cell wall polysaccharides

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background The fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants are natural biomass conversion systems that turn fresh plant forage into fungal biomass to feed the farming ants. However, the decomposition potential of the symbiont Leucocoprinus gongylophorus for processing polysaccharides has remained controversial. We therefore used quantifiable DeepSAGE technology to obtain mRNA expression patterns of genes coding for secreted enzymes from top, middle, and bottom sections of a laboratory fungus-garden of Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutting ants. Results A broad spectrum of biomass-conversion-relevant enzyme genes was found to be expressed in situ: cellulases (GH3, GH5, GH6, GH7, AA9 [formerly GH61]), hemicellulases (GH5, GH10, CE1, GH12, GH74), pectinolytic enzymes (CE8, GH28, GH43, PL1, PL3, PL4), glucoamylase (GH15), α-galactosidase (GH27), and various cutinases, esterases, and lipases. In general, expression of these genes reached maximal values in the bottom section of the garden, particularly for an AA9 lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase and for a GH5 (endocellulase), a GH7 (reducing end-acting cellobiohydrolase), and a GH10 (xylanase), all containing a carbohydrate binding module that specifically binds cellulose (CBM1). Although we did not directly quantify enzyme abundance, the profile of expressed cellulase genes indicates that both hydrolytic and oxidative degradation is taking place. Conclusions The fungal symbiont of Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants can degrade a large range of plant polymers, but the conversion of cellulose, hemicellulose, and part of the pectin occurs primarily towards the end of the decomposition process, i.e. in the bottom section of the fungus garden. These conversions are likely to provide nutrients for the fungus itself rather than for the ants, whose colony growth and reproductive success are limited by proteins obtained from ingesting fungal gongylidia. These specialized hyphal tips are hardly produced in the bottom section of fungus gardens

  16. Magnetic anisotropy and organization of nanoparticles in heads and antennae of neotropical leaf-cutter ants, Atta colombica

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Oriented magnetic nanoparticles have been suggested as a good candidate for a magnetic sensor in ants. Behavioral evidence for a magnetic compass in Neotropical leafcutter ants, Atta colombica (Formicidae: Attini), motivated a study of the arrangement of magnetic particles in the ants’ four major bo...

  17. Do leaf-cutter ants Atta colombica orient their path-integrated, home vector with a magnetic compass?

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Leaf-cutter ants Atta colombica forage over 250 m in structurally-complex, Neotropical rainforests that occlude sun or polarized light cues. Night foraging makes the use of celestial cues and landmarks all the more difficult. We investigated the directional cues used by leaf-cutter ants to orient h...

  18. Fat body in some genera of leaf-cutting ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Proteins, lipids and polysaccharides detection.

    PubMed

    Roma, Gislaine Cristina; Mathias, Maria Izabel Camargo; Bueno, Odair Corrêa

    2006-01-01

    The comparative histochemical analysis of the fat body of workers belonging to the basal species Cyphomyrmex rimosus and Mycetarotes parallelus and to derived species Acromyrmex disciger and Atta laevigata revealed that this tissue is constituted mainly by cells denominated trophocytes and oenocytes. The trophocytes of all species studied here were characterized mainly by the proteins and lipids synthesis and storage, being the derived species the ones who have presented higher quantity of lipids in the trophocytes when compared to the trophocytes of basal species. In workers M. parallelus and A. laevigata, besides proteins and lipids, there has being observed the presence of polysaccharides, however, in C. rimosus and A. disciger these elements were detected in lower quantities. The histochemical studies of the oenocytes of basal and derived species revealed significant presence of proteins as well as lipids in these cells. In the oenocytes of derived species A. disciger and A. laevigata a higher quantity of lipidic inclusions has being observed, when compared to the basal species.

  19. Long-term avoidance memory formation is associated with a transient increase in mushroom body synaptic complexes in leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Falibene, Agustina; Roces, Flavio; Rössler, Wolfgang

    2015-01-01

    Long-term behavioral changes related to learning and experience have been shown to be associated with structural remodeling in the brain. Leaf-cutting ants learn to avoid previously preferred plants after they have proved harmful for their symbiotic fungus, a process that involves long-term olfactory memory. We studied the dynamics of brain microarchitectural changes after long-term olfactory memory formation following avoidance learning in Acromyrmex ambiguus. After performing experiments to control for possible neuronal changes related to age and body size, we quantified synaptic complexes (microglomeruli, MG) in olfactory regions of the mushroom bodies (MBs) at different times after learning. Long-term avoidance memory formation was associated with a transient change in MG densities. Two days after learning, MG density was higher than before learning. At days 4 and 15 after learning—when ants still showed plant avoidance—MG densities had decreased to the initial state. The structural reorganization of MG triggered by long-term avoidance memory formation clearly differed from changes promoted by pure exposure to and collection of novel plants with distinct odors. Sensory exposure by the simultaneous collection of several, instead of one, non-harmful plant species resulted in a decrease in MG densities in the olfactory lip. We hypothesize that while sensory exposure leads to MG pruning in the MB olfactory lip, the formation of long-term avoidance memory involves an initial growth of new MG followed by subsequent pruning. PMID:25904854

  20. Foliar Substrate Affects Cuticular Hydrocarbon Profiles and Intraspecific Aggression in the Leafcutter Ant Atta sexdens

    PubMed Central

    Valadares, Lohan; Nascimento, Daniela; Nascimento, Fabio S.

    2015-01-01

    Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are traditionally considered to be one of the most important chemical cues used in the nestmate recognition process of social hymenopterans. However, it has been suggested that in the leafcutter ant genus Atta, it is not the CHCs, but the alarm pheromone that is involved in the nestmate recognition process. In this study we used a laboratory population of Atta sexdens to explore the association between their CHC profile variation and intraspecific aggression. In the first part of the experiment, four colonies were divided into two groups with distinct diets to stimulate differentiation of their CHC profiles. In the second part of the experiment, all colonies received the same diet to examine resemblance of chemical profiles. At the end of each part of the experiment we extracted the CHCs from workers. The results demonstrated that colonies that shared the same food resource had similar cuticular hydrocarbon profiles. Furthermore, colonies were significantly more aggressive towards conspecifics that used a different foliar substrate and consequently had greater differences in their cuticular chemical composition. This study suggests that the CHC profiles of A. sexdens can be affected by the foliar substrates used, and that the CHCs are used in the nestmate recognition process of this species. PMID:26463072

  1. Ricinus communis and Jatropha curcas (Euphorbiaceae) seed oil toxicity against Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Alonso, E C; Santos, D Y A C

    2013-04-01

    Leaf-cutting ants are the main herbivores in the New World tropics. Although the toxicity of seed oils against these ants has been poorly investigated, previous results revealed that seed oils exert considerable toxic activity against these insects. This paper analyzes the toxic action and deterrent properties of castor oil, Ricinus communis L., and physic nut oil, Jatropha curcas L., against workers of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa reared in laboratory. Toxic effect was analyzed by feeding insects artificial diets supplemented with different oil concentrations and direct contact with the two oils. Deterrent activity was assessed by measuring the frequency of attendance to diets during the first 48 h of the ingestion bioassay. Castor oil at 10 and 30 mg/ml and physic nut oil at 5, 10, and 30 mg/ml were toxic by ingestion. In the direct contact bioassay, toxicity was observed for physic nut oil at 0.1 and 0.2 mg/ml, whereas castor oil exerted toxic effects only when the highest concentration was applied. Also, castor oil had a more pronounced deterrent effect against the leaf-cutting ant, compared with physic nut oil. Methods to apply these oils to control these insects are discussed.

  2. Ant-fungus species combinations engineer physiological activity of fungus gardens.

    PubMed

    Seal, J N; Schiøtt, M; Mueller, U G

    2014-07-15

    Fungus-gardening insects are among the most complex organisms because of their extensive co-evolutionary histories with obligate fungal symbionts and other microbes. Some fungus-gardening insect lineages share fungal symbionts with other members of their lineage and thus exhibit diffuse co-evolutionary relationships, while others exhibit little or no symbiont sharing, resulting in host-fungus fidelity. The mechanisms that maintain this symbiont fidelity are currently unknown. Prior work suggested that derived leaf-cutting ants in the genus Atta interact synergistically with leaf-cutter fungi (Attamyces) by exhibiting higher fungal growth rates and enzymatic activities than when growing a fungus from the sister-clade to Attamyces (so-called 'Trachymyces'), grown primarily by the non-leaf cutting Trachymyrmex ants that form, correspondingly, the sister-clade to leaf-cutting ants. To elucidate the enzymatic bases of host-fungus specialization in leaf-cutting ants, we conducted a reciprocal fungus-switch experiment between the ant Atta texana and the ant Trachymyrmex arizonensis and report measured enzymatic activities of switched and sham-switched fungus gardens to digest starch, pectin, xylan, cellulose and casein. Gardens exhibited higher amylase and pectinase activities when A. texana ants cultivated Attamyces compared with Trachymyces fungi, consistent with enzymatic specialization. In contrast, gardens showed comparable amylase and pectinase activities when T. arizonensis cultivated either fungal species. Although gardens of leaf-cutting ants are not known to be significant metabolizers of cellulose, T. arizonensis were able to maintain gardens with significant cellulase activity when growing either fungal species. In contrast to carbohydrate metabolism, protease activity was significantly higher in Attamyces than in Trachymyces, regardless of the ant host. Activity of some enzymes employed by this symbiosis therefore arises from complex interactions between the

  3. The Genome Sequence of the Leaf-Cutter Ant Atta cephalotes Reveals Insights into Its Obligate Symbiotic Lifestyle

    PubMed Central

    Suen, Garret; Holt, Carson; Abouheif, Ehab; Bornberg-Bauer, Erich; Bouffard, Pascal; Caldera, Eric J.; Cash, Elizabeth; Cavanaugh, Amy; Denas, Olgert; Elhaik, Eran; Favé, Marie-Julie; Gadau, Jürgen; Gibson, Joshua D.; Graur, Dan; Grubbs, Kirk J.; Hagen, Darren E.; Harkins, Timothy T.; Helmkampf, Martin; Hu, Hao; Johnson, Brian R.; Kim, Jay; Marsh, Sarah E.; Moeller, Joseph A.; Muñoz-Torres, Mónica C.; Murphy, Marguerite C.; Naughton, Meredith C.; Nigam, Surabhi; Overson, Rick; Rajakumar, Rajendhran; Reese, Justin T.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Smith, Chris R.; Tao, Shu; Tsutsui, Neil D.; Viljakainen, Lumi; Wissler, Lothar; Yandell, Mark D.; Zimmer, Fabian; Taylor, James; Slater, Steven C.; Clifton, Sandra W.; Warren, Wesley C.; Elsik, Christine G.; Smith, Christopher D.; Weinstock, George M.; Gerardo, Nicole M.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2011-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants are one of the most important herbivorous insects in the Neotropics, harvesting vast quantities of fresh leaf material. The ants use leaves to cultivate a fungus that serves as the colony's primary food source. This obligate ant-fungus mutualism is one of the few occurrences of farming by non-humans and likely facilitated the formation of their massive colonies. Mature leaf-cutter ant colonies contain millions of workers ranging in size from small garden tenders to large soldiers, resulting in one of the most complex polymorphic caste systems within ants. To begin uncovering the genomic underpinnings of this system, we sequenced the genome of Atta cephalotes using 454 pyrosequencing. One prediction from this ant's lifestyle is that it has undergone genetic modifications that reflect its obligate dependence on the fungus for nutrients. Analysis of this genome sequence is consistent with this hypothesis, as we find evidence for reductions in genes related to nutrient acquisition. These include extensive reductions in serine proteases (which are likely unnecessary because proteolysis is not a primary mechanism used to process nutrients obtained from the fungus), a loss of genes involved in arginine biosynthesis (suggesting that this amino acid is obtained from the fungus), and the absence of a hexamerin (which sequesters amino acids during larval development in other insects). Following recent reports of genome sequences from other insects that engage in symbioses with beneficial microbes, the A. cephalotes genome provides new insights into the symbiotic lifestyle of this ant and advances our understanding of host–microbe symbioses. PMID:21347285

  4. The Mitochondrial Genome of the Leaf-Cutter Ant Atta laevigata: A Mitogenome with a Large Number of Intergenic Spacers

    PubMed Central

    Rodovalho, Cynara de Melo; Lyra, Mariana Lúcio; Ferro, Milene; Bacci, Maurício

    2014-01-01

    In this paper we describe the nearly complete mitochondrial genome of the leaf-cutter ant Atta laevigata, assembled using transcriptomic libraries from Sanger and Illumina next generation sequencing (NGS), and PCR products. This mitogenome was found to be very large (18,729 bp), given the presence of 30 non-coding intergenic spacers (IGS) spanning 3,808 bp. A portion of the putative control region remained unsequenced. The gene content and organization correspond to that inferred for the ancestral pancrustacea, except for two tRNA gene rearrangements that have been described previously in other ants. The IGS were highly variable in length and dispersed through the mitogenome. This pattern was also found for the other hymenopterans in particular for the monophyletic Apocrita. These spacers with unknown function may be valuable for characterizing genome evolution and distinguishing closely related species and individuals. NGS provided better coverage than Sanger sequencing, especially for tRNA and ribosomal subunit genes, thus facilitating efforts to fill in sequence gaps. The results obtained showed that data from transcriptomic libraries contain valuable information for assembling mitogenomes. The present data also provide a source of molecular markers that will be very important for improving our understanding of genomic evolutionary processes and phylogenetic relationships among hymenopterans. PMID:24828084

  5. Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Foraging Networks in the Grass-Cutting Ant Atta bisphaerica Forel, 1908 (Formicidae, Attini).

    PubMed

    Lopes, Juliane F S; Brugger, Mariana S; Menezes, Regys B; Camargo, Roberto S; Forti, Luiz Carlos; Fourcassié, Vincent

    2016-01-01

    Foraging networks are a key element for ant colonies because they facilitate the flow of resources from the environment to the nest and they allow the sharing of information among individuals. Here we report the results of an 8-month survey, extending from November 2009 to June 2010, of the foraging networks of four mature colonies of Atta bisphaerica, a species of grass-cutting ant which is considered as a pest in Brazil. We found that the distribution of foraging effort was strongly influenced by the landscape features around the nests, in particular by the permanently wet parts of the pasture in which the nests were located. The foraging networks consisted of underground tunnels which opened on average at 21.5m from the nests and of above-ground physical trails that reached on average 4.70m in length. The use of the foraging networks was highly dynamic, with few sections of the networks used for long periods of time. Three different phases, which could be linked to the seasonal change in the local rainfall regime, could be identified in the construction and use of the foraging networks. The first phase corresponded to the beginning of the rainy season and was characterized by a low foraging activity, as well as a low excavation and physical trail construction effort. The second phase, which began in February and extended up to the end of the humid season at the end of March, was characterized by an intense excavation and trail construction effort, resulting in an expansion of the foraging networks. Finally, in the third phase, which corresponded to the beginning of the dry season, the excavation and trail construction effort leveled off or decreased while foraging activity kept increasing. Our hypothesis is that ants could benefit from the underground tunnels and physical trails built during the humid season to maintain their foraging activity at a high level. PMID:26752413

  6. Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Foraging Networks in the Grass-Cutting Ant Atta bisphaerica Forel, 1908 (Formicidae, Attini)

    PubMed Central

    Lopes, Juliane F. S.; Brugger, Mariana S.; Menezes, Regys B.; Camargo, Roberto S.; Forti, Luiz Carlos; Fourcassié, Vincent

    2016-01-01

    Foraging networks are a key element for ant colonies because they facilitate the flow of resources from the environment to the nest and they allow the sharing of information among individuals. Here we report the results of an 8-month survey, extending from November 2009 to June 2010, of the foraging networks of four mature colonies of Atta bisphaerica, a species of grass-cutting ant which is considered as a pest in Brazil. We found that the distribution of foraging effort was strongly influenced by the landscape features around the nests, in particular by the permanently wet parts of the pasture in which the nests were located. The foraging networks consisted of underground tunnels which opened on average at 21.5m from the nests and of above-ground physical trails that reached on average 4.70m in length. The use of the foraging networks was highly dynamic, with few sections of the networks used for long periods of time. Three different phases, which could be linked to the seasonal change in the local rainfall regime, could be identified in the construction and use of the foraging networks. The first phase corresponded to the beginning of the rainy season and was characterized by a low foraging activity, as well as a low excavation and physical trail construction effort. The second phase, which began in February and extended up to the end of the humid season at the end of March, was characterized by an intense excavation and trail construction effort, resulting in an expansion of the foraging networks. Finally, in the third phase, which corresponded to the beginning of the dry season, the excavation and trail construction effort leveled off or decreased while foraging activity kept increasing. Our hypothesis is that ants could benefit from the underground tunnels and physical trails built during the humid season to maintain their foraging activity at a high level. PMID:26752413

  7. Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Foraging Networks in the Grass-Cutting Ant Atta bisphaerica Forel, 1908 (Formicidae, Attini).

    PubMed

    Lopes, Juliane F S; Brugger, Mariana S; Menezes, Regys B; Camargo, Roberto S; Forti, Luiz Carlos; Fourcassié, Vincent

    2016-01-01

    Foraging networks are a key element for ant colonies because they facilitate the flow of resources from the environment to the nest and they allow the sharing of information among individuals. Here we report the results of an 8-month survey, extending from November 2009 to June 2010, of the foraging networks of four mature colonies of Atta bisphaerica, a species of grass-cutting ant which is considered as a pest in Brazil. We found that the distribution of foraging effort was strongly influenced by the landscape features around the nests, in particular by the permanently wet parts of the pasture in which the nests were located. The foraging networks consisted of underground tunnels which opened on average at 21.5m from the nests and of above-ground physical trails that reached on average 4.70m in length. The use of the foraging networks was highly dynamic, with few sections of the networks used for long periods of time. Three different phases, which could be linked to the seasonal change in the local rainfall regime, could be identified in the construction and use of the foraging networks. The first phase corresponded to the beginning of the rainy season and was characterized by a low foraging activity, as well as a low excavation and physical trail construction effort. The second phase, which began in February and extended up to the end of the humid season at the end of March, was characterized by an intense excavation and trail construction effort, resulting in an expansion of the foraging networks. Finally, in the third phase, which corresponded to the beginning of the dry season, the excavation and trail construction effort leveled off or decreased while foraging activity kept increasing. Our hypothesis is that ants could benefit from the underground tunnels and physical trails built during the humid season to maintain their foraging activity at a high level.

  8. Paleodistributions and Comparative Molecular Phylogeography of Leafcutter Ants (Atta spp.) Provide New Insight into the Origins of Amazonian Diversity

    PubMed Central

    Solomon, Scott E.; Bacci, Mauricio; Martins, Joaquim; Vinha, Giovanna Gonçalves; Mueller, Ulrich G.

    2008-01-01

    The evolutionary basis for high species diversity in tropical regions of the world remains unresolved. Much research has focused on the biogeography of speciation in the Amazon Basin, which harbors the greatest diversity of terrestrial life. The leading hypotheses on allopatric diversification of Amazonian taxa are the Pleistocene refugia, marine incursion, and riverine barrier hypotheses. Recent advances in the fields of phylogeography and species-distribution modeling permit a modern re-evaluation of these hypotheses. Our approach combines comparative, molecular phylogeographic analyses using mitochondrial DNA sequence data with paleodistribution modeling of species ranges at the last glacial maximum (LGM) to test these hypotheses for three co-distributed species of leafcutter ants (Atta spp.). The cumulative results of all tests reject every prediction of the riverine barrier hypothesis, but are unable to reject several predictions of the Pleistocene refugia and marine incursion hypotheses. Coalescent dating analyses suggest that population structure formed recently (Pleistocene-Pliocene), but are unable to reject the possibility that Miocene events may be responsible for structuring populations in two of the three species examined. The available data therefore suggest that either marine incursions in the Miocene or climate changes during the Pleistocene—or both—have shaped the population structure of the three species examined. Our results also reconceptualize the traditional Pleistocene refugia hypothesis, and offer a novel framework for future research into the area. PMID:18648512

  9. Magnetic anisotropy and organization of nanoparticles in heads and antennae of neotropical leaf-cutter ants, Atta colombica

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alves, Odivaldo C.; Srygley, Robert B.; Riveros, Andre J.; Barbosa, Marcia A.; Esquivel, Darci M. S.; Wajnberg, Eliane

    2014-10-01

    Oriented magnetic nanoparticles have been suggested as a good candidate for a magnetic sensor in ants. Behavioural evidence for a magnetic compass in neotropical leaf-cutter ants, Atta colombica (Formicidae: Attini), motivated a study of the arrangement of magnetic particles in the ants’ four major body parts by measuring the angular dependence of the ferromagnetic resonance spectra at room temperature. Spectra of the thoraces and those of the abdomens showed no significant angular dependence, while those of the antennae and those of the heads exhibited a periodic dependence relative to the magnetic field. Fitting of the angular dependence of the resonant field resulted in an unexpected magnetic anisotropy with uniaxial symmetry. High values of the first order anisotropy constant were observed for the magnetic material in antennae (-2.9  ×  105 erg cm-3) and heads (-1  ×  106 erg cm-3) as compared to body parts of other social insects. In addition, the magnitude of the anisotropy in the heads was comparable to that observed in magnetite nanoparticles of 4-5 nm diameter. For the antennae, the mean angle of the particles’ easy magnetization axis (EA) was estimated to be 41° relative to the straightened antenna’s long axis. For the heads, EA was approximately 60° relative to the head’s axis running from midway between the spines to the clypeus. These physical characteristics indicate organized magnetic nanoparticles with a potential for directional sensitivity, which is an important feature of magnetic compasses.

  10. Electrophysiological responses of Atta sexdens rubropilosa workers to essential oils of eucalyptus and its chemical composition.

    PubMed

    Batista-Pereira, Luciane G; Fernandes, João B; da Silva, M Fátima G E; Vieira, Paulo C; Bueno, Odair C; Corrêa, Arlene G

    2006-01-01

    The leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel, 1908 is the most harmful of the Eucalyptus pests, causing severe losses in wood production through defoliation. Various strategies have been tried and effort spent on the development of methods to control this pest, however no practical and environmentally acceptable one currently exists. In this work the chemical composition of the essential oil of seven Eucalyptus species was identified and the selectivity and sensitivity of antennal receptors of A. sexdens rubropilosa workers to the volatile compounds were determined using the electroantennographic technique (EAG and GC-EAD). Analysis by GC-EAD showed in E. cloesiana and E. maculata, respectively, seventeen and sixteen terpenes that elicited responses in ant workers' antennae, indicating the potential role of the essential oils as allelochemicals that determine the choice of the foraging material. PMID:17137124

  11. Do leaf-cutter ants Atta colombica obtain their magnetic sensors from soil?

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    How animals sense, process and use magnetic information has remained largely elusive. In insects, ferromagnetic particles are candidates for a magnetic sensor. Recent studies suggest that ferromagnetic minerals from soil can be incorporated into the antennae of the migratory ant Pachycondola margina...

  12. Selective isolation of dematiaceous fungi from the workers of Atta laevigata (Formicidae: Attini).

    PubMed

    Guedes, F L A; Attili-Angelis, D; Pagnocca, F C

    2012-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (Formicidae: Attini) are considered pests in agriculture for their impact in human crops, as they utilize leaf fragments to raise their fungal mutualist (Agaricales: Lepiotaceae). Basically, the basidiomycetous fungus is cultivated to supply food to adult workers and broads; in return, the ants protect it against natural enemies. However, recent studies have claimed that other microorganisms are associated to ant nests where a wide range of interactions may take place. To investigate the occurrence of dematiaceous fungi on the cuticle of Atta laevigata ants, 30 workers were sampled from an adult nest located in the surroundings of the Center for the Studies of Social Insects, UNESP-Rio Claro, SP, Brazil. The use of selective techniques to avoid high-sporulation fungi has been recommended and was tested in this study. To favor the isolation of the desired fungi, heads and cuticle scrapings of ant bodies were inoculated on Mycosel agar and incubated for 3 weeks at 35°C. Morphological and molecular methods were used to identify the filamentous fungi recovered. From 56 isolates, 19 were hyaline filamentous species, and among the remaining 37, some are mentioned as phyto-associated fungi like Alternaria arborescens, Bipolaris sorokiniana, Bipolaris eleusines, Bipolaris zeae, Curvularia trifolii, and Paraphaeosphaeria michotii. These species are reported from A. laevigata bodies for the first time. None of the isolation trials revealed the presence of the parasite Escovopsis or entomopathogenic fungi. The possible spread of the fungi in nature by the ants is discussed.

  13. Branch Width and Height Influence the Incorporation of Branches into Foraging Trails and Travel Speed in Leafcutter Ants Atta cephalotes (L.) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Freeman, B M; Chaves-Campos, J

    2016-06-01

    Fallen branches are often incorporated into Atta cephalotes (L.) foraging trails to optimize leaf tissue transport rates and economize trail maintenance. Recent studies in lowlands show laden A. cephalotes travel faster across fallen branches than on ground, but more slowly ascending or descending a branch. The latter is likely because (1) it is difficult to travel up or downhill and (2) bottlenecks occur when branches are narrower than preceding trail. Hence, both branch height and width should determine whether branches decrease net travel times, but no study has evaluated it yet. Laden A. cephalotes were timed in relation to branch width and height across segments preceding, accessing, across, and departing a fallen branch in the highlands of Costa Rica. Ants traveled faster on branches than on cleared segments of trunk-trail, but accelerated when ascending or descending the branch-likely because of the absence of bottlenecks during the day in the highlands. Branch size did not affect ant speed in observed branches; the majority of which (22/24) varied from 11 to 120 mm in both height and width (average 66 mm in both cases). To determine whether ants exclude branches outside this range, ants were offered the choice between branches within this range and branches that were taller/wider than 120 mm. Ants strongly preferred the former. Our results indicate that A. cephalotes can adjust their speed to compensate for the difficulty of traveling on branch slopes. More generally, branch size should be considered when studying ant foraging efficiency. PMID:26830434

  14. Comparison of radial growth rate of the mutualistic fungus of Atta sexdens rubropilosa forel in two culture media

    PubMed Central

    Miyashira, C.H.; Tanigushi, D.G.; Gugliotta, A.M.; Santos, D.Y.A.C.

    2010-01-01

    In vitro culture of the mutualistic fungus of leaf-cutting ants is troublesome due to its low growth rate, which leads to storage problems and contaminants accumulation. This paper aims at comparing the radial growth rate of the mutualistic fungus of Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel in two different culture media (Pagnocca B and MEA LP). Although total MEA LP radial growth was greater all along the bioassay, no significant difference was detected between growth efficiencies of the two media. Previous evidences of low growth rate for this fungus were confirmed. Since these data cannot point greater efficiency of one culture medium over the other, MEA LP medium is indicated for in vitro studies with this mutualistic fungus due its simpler composition and translucent color, making the analysis easier. PMID:24031524

  15. Spatial distribution and fruiting phenology of Protium heptaphyllum (Burseraceae) determine the design of the underground foraging system of Atta sexdens L. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    da Silva, P S D; Leal, I R; Wirth, R; Tabarelli, M

    2012-08-01

    Leaf-cutting ants have long been recognized to forage via complex trail systems but the nature and the ecological drivers of the different foraging strategies adopted remain a key topic. Here, we described the spatiotemporal use of belowground foraging galleries by Atta sexdens L. in the Brazilian Atlantic forest, and examined the adaptive advantages of this foraging strategy. Protium heptaphyllum adult trees (DBH > 10 cm), seed/seedling clumps and ant gallery entrances were mapped across two 1-ha plots during two consecutive fruiting seasons (2002 and 2004). We recorded 75 ca. 40 cm deep gallery entrances beneath 26 P. heptaphyllum trees at nest distances ranging from 14 to 57 m. Furthermore, gallery abundance and galleries associated with seed/seedling clumps correlated positively with P. heptaphyllum density. Our results indicate that A. sexdens was able to set a permanent system of underground galleries targeting P. heptaphyllum trees and their seeds on the ground. Such network of galleries was spatially arranged according to both the spatial distribution and abundance of P. heptaphyllum trees in a way that most gallery entrances were disposed beneath or in close periphery of P. heptaphyllum crowns. Our findings suggest that underground trail systems shaped by fruit resources represent a foraging strategy clearly more common than existing literature on the subject would suggest. In addition, it reinforces the notion that the spatiotemporal availability of resources combined with predation risk largely influence trail configurations as well as overall foraging strategies adopted by leaf-cutting ants. PMID:23950059

  16. Uninformed sacrifice: Evidence against long-range alarm transmission in foraging ants exposed to localized abduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tejera, F.; Reyes, A.; Altshuler, E.

    2016-07-01

    It is well established that danger information can be transmitted by ants through relatively small distances, provoking either a state of alarm when they move away from potentially dangerous stimulus, or charge toward it aggressively. There is almost no knowledge if danger information can be transmitted along large distances. In this paper, we abduct leaf cutting ants of the species Atta insularis while they forage in their natural environment at a certain point of the foraging line, so ants make a "U" turn to escape from the danger zone and go back to the nest. Our results strongly suggest that those ants do not transmit "danger information" to other nestmates marching towards the abduction area. The individualistic behavior of the ants returning from the danger zone results in a depression of the foraging activity due to the systematic sacrifice of non-informed individuals.

  17. Rapid shifts in Atta cephalotes fungus-garden enzyme activity after a change in fungal substrate (Attini, Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Kooij, P W; Schiøtt, M; Boomsma, J J; De Fine Licht, H H

    2011-05-01

    Fungus gardens of the basidiomycete Leucocoprinus gongylophorus sustain large colonies of leaf-cutting ants by degrading the plant material collected by the ants. Recent studies have shown that enzyme activity in these gardens is primarily targeted toward starch, proteins and the pectin matrix associated with cell walls, rather than toward structural cell wall components such as cellulose and hemicelluloses. Substrate constituents are also known to be sequentially degraded in different sections of the fungus garden. To test the plasticity in the extracellular expression of fungus-garden enzymes, we measured the changes in enzyme activity after a controlled shift in fungal substrate offered to six laboratory colonies of Atta cephalotes. An ant diet consisting exclusively of grains of parboiled rice rapidly increased the activity of endo-proteinases and some of the pectinases attacking the backbone structure of pectin molecules, relative to a pure diet of bramble leaves, and this happened predominantly in the most recently established top sections of fungus gardens. However, fungus-garden amylase activity did not significantly increase despite the substantial increase in starch availability from the rice diet, relative to the leaf diet controls. Enzyme activity in the older, bottom sections of fungus gardens decreased, indicating a faster processing of the rice substrate compared to the leaf diet. These results suggest that leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens can rapidly adjust enzyme activity to provide a better match with substrate availability and that excess starch that is not protected by cell walls may be digested by the ants rather than by the fungus-garden symbiont. ELECTRONIC SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00040-010-0127-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users. PMID:21475686

  18. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability

    DOE PAGESBeta

    Lewin, Gina R.; Johnson, Amanda L.; Soto, Rolando D. Moreira; Perry, Kailene; Book, Adam J.; Horn, Heidi A.; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián A.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2016-03-21

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using materialmore » from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within general containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. Lastly, a representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation.« less

  19. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability.

    PubMed

    Lewin, Gina R; Johnson, Amanda L; Soto, Rolando D Moreira; Perry, Kailene; Book, Adam J; Horn, Heidi A; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián A; Currie, Cameron R

    2016-01-01

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using material from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within genera containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. A representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation.

  20. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability.

    PubMed

    Lewin, Gina R; Johnson, Amanda L; Soto, Rolando D Moreira; Perry, Kailene; Book, Adam J; Horn, Heidi A; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián A; Currie, Cameron R

    2016-01-01

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using material from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within genera containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. A representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation. PMID:26999749

  1. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability

    PubMed Central

    Lewin, Gina R.; Johnson, Amanda L.; Soto, Rolando D. Moreira; Perry, Kailene; Book, Adam J.; Horn, Heidi A.; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián A.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2016-01-01

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using material from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within genera containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. A representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation. PMID:26999749

  2. The prominent role of fungi and fungal enzymes in the ant-fungus biomass conversion symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Lange, L; Grell, M N

    2014-06-01

    Molecular studies have added significantly to understanding of the role of fungi and fungal enzymes in the efficient biomass conversion, which takes place in the fungus garden of leaf-cutting ants. It is now clear that the fungal symbiont expresses the full spectrum of genes for degrading cellulose and other plant cell wall polysaccharides. Since the start of the genomics era, numerous interesting studies have especially focused on evolutionary, molecular, and organismal aspects of the biological and biochemical functions of the symbiosis between leaf-cutting ants (Atta spp. and Acromyrmex spp.) and their fungal symbiont Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. Macroscopic observations of the fungus-farming ant colony inherently depict the ants as the leading part of the symbiosis (the myrmicocentric approach, overshadowing the mycocentric aspects). However, at the molecular level, it is fungal enzymes that enable the ants to access the nutrition embedded in recalcitrant plant biomass. Our hypothesis is that the evolutionary events that established fungus-farming practice were predisposed by a fascinating fungal evolution toward increasing attractiveness to ants. This resulted in the ants allowing the fungus to grow in the nests and began to supply plant materials for more fungal growth. Molecular studies also confirm that specialized fungal structures, the gongylidia, with high levels of proteins and rich blend of enzymes, are essential for symbiosis. Harvested and used as ant feed, the gongylidia are the key factor for sustaining the highly complex leaf-cutting ant colony. This microbial upgrade of fresh leaves to protein-enriched animal feed can serve as inspiration for modern biorefinery technology. PMID:24728757

  3. The prominent role of fungi and fungal enzymes in the ant-fungus biomass conversion symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Lange, L; Grell, M N

    2014-06-01

    Molecular studies have added significantly to understanding of the role of fungi and fungal enzymes in the efficient biomass conversion, which takes place in the fungus garden of leaf-cutting ants. It is now clear that the fungal symbiont expresses the full spectrum of genes for degrading cellulose and other plant cell wall polysaccharides. Since the start of the genomics era, numerous interesting studies have especially focused on evolutionary, molecular, and organismal aspects of the biological and biochemical functions of the symbiosis between leaf-cutting ants (Atta spp. and Acromyrmex spp.) and their fungal symbiont Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. Macroscopic observations of the fungus-farming ant colony inherently depict the ants as the leading part of the symbiosis (the myrmicocentric approach, overshadowing the mycocentric aspects). However, at the molecular level, it is fungal enzymes that enable the ants to access the nutrition embedded in recalcitrant plant biomass. Our hypothesis is that the evolutionary events that established fungus-farming practice were predisposed by a fascinating fungal evolution toward increasing attractiveness to ants. This resulted in the ants allowing the fungus to grow in the nests and began to supply plant materials for more fungal growth. Molecular studies also confirm that specialized fungal structures, the gongylidia, with high levels of proteins and rich blend of enzymes, are essential for symbiosis. Harvested and used as ant feed, the gongylidia are the key factor for sustaining the highly complex leaf-cutting ant colony. This microbial upgrade of fresh leaves to protein-enriched animal feed can serve as inspiration for modern biorefinery technology.

  4. Field evaluation of potential of alarm pheromone compounds to enhance baits for control of grass-cutting ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Hughes, William O H; Howse, Philip E; Vilela, Evaldo F; Knapp, Jenny J; Goulson, Dave

    2002-06-01

    Leaf-cutting ants are important economic pests of the Neotropics, and the most common method of control involves the use of insecticidal baits. Baits that are currently available exhibit low attractiveness to grass-cutting species, thus there is a need to develop improved baits. The potential for using alarm pheromone compounds to enhance the attractiveness and subsequent harvest of baits was examined for two economically important species of grass-cutting ant, Atta bisphaerica (Forel) and Atta capiguara (Goncalves). Compounds of the alarm pheromone were applied to rubber septa that were then sealed inside plastic sachets together with citrus pulp-based bait. The best candidate compound for bait enhancement was 4-methyl-3-heptanone. This compound significantly increased the attractiveness of bait sachets to both species. It also appeared to improve the discovery of nearby unenhanced sachets. However, 4-methyl-3-heptanone resulted in only a slight and non-significant improvement in bait harvest. Enhanced and unenhanced bait sachets were applied at a number of positions to obtain an improvement in harvest, but without success. The possible reasons for the lack of an enhancement of harvest and the potential for using alarm pheromone compounds as leaf-cutting ant bait enhancers are discussed. PMID:12075997

  5. Evolutionarily advanced ant farmers rear polyploid fungal crops.

    PubMed

    Kooij, P W; Aanen, D K; Schiøtt, M; Boomsma, J J

    2015-11-01

    Innovative evolutionary developments are often related to gene or genome duplications. The crop fungi of attine fungus-growing ants are suspected to have enhanced genetic variation reminiscent of polyploidy, but this has never been quantified with cytological data and genetic markers. We estimated the number of nuclei per fungal cell for 42 symbionts reared by 14 species of Panamanian fungus-growing ants. This showed that domesticated symbionts of higher attine ants are polykaryotic with 7-17 nuclei per cell, whereas nonspecialized crops of lower attines are dikaryotic similar to most free-living basidiomycete fungi. We then investigated how putative higher genetic diversity is distributed across polykaryotic mycelia, using microsatellite loci and evaluating models assuming that all nuclei are either heterogeneously haploid or homogeneously polyploid. Genetic variation in the polykaryotic symbionts of the basal higher attine genera Trachymyrmex and Sericomyrmex was only slightly enhanced, but the evolutionarily derived crop fungi of Atta and Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants had much higher genetic variation. Our opposite ploidy models indicated that the symbionts of Trachymyrmex and Sericomyrmex are likely to be lowly and facultatively polyploid (just over two haplotypes on average), whereas Atta and Acromyrmex symbionts are highly and obligatorily polyploid (ca. 5-7 haplotypes on average). This stepwise transition appears analogous to ploidy variation in plants and fungi domesticated by humans and in fungi domesticated by termites and plants, where gene or genome duplications were typically associated with selection for higher productivity, but allopolyploid chimerism was incompatible with sexual reproduction. PMID:26265100

  6. Broad Escovopsis-inhibition activity of Pseudonocardia associated with Trachymyrmex ants.

    PubMed

    Meirelles, Lucas A; Mendes, Thaís D; Solomon, Scott E; Bueno, Odair C; Pagnocca, Fernando C; Rodrigues, Andre

    2014-08-01

    Attine ants maintain an association with antibiotic-producing Actinobacteria found on their integuments. Evidence supports these bacteria as auxiliary symbionts that help ants to defend the fungus gardens against pathogens. Using Pseudonocardia strains isolated from Trachymyrmex ants, we tested whether the inhibitory capabilities of such strains are restricted to Escovopsis parasites that infect gardens of this ant genus. Twelve Pseudonocardia strains were tested in in vitro bioassays against Escovopsis strains derived from fungus gardens of Trachymyrmex (n = 1) and leaf-cutting ants (n = 3). Overall, significant differences were observed in the mycelial growth among each Escovopsis strain in the presence of Pseudonocardia. Particularly, Escovopsis from Acromyrmex and Trachymyrmex were the most inhibited strains in comparison to Escovopsis isolated from Atta. This result suggests that Pseudonocardia isolated from Trachymyrmex possibly secrete antimicrobial compounds effective against diverse Escovopsis strains. The fact that Trachymyrmex ants harbour Pseudonocardia strains with broad spectrum of activity and its defensive role on attine gardens are discussed.

  7. Ant interactions with soil organisms and associated semiochemicals.

    PubMed

    Vander Meer, Robert

    2012-06-01

    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 and their sources with antimicrobial activity or potential activity is highlighted. The leaf-cutting ants and fire ant provide the most researched species, in part because they cause 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, yeasts, and ant defensive semiochemicals. These complex relationships highlight the multidimensional aspects of ants and the soil environment in which they live. PMID:22653568

  8. Ants can learn to forage on one-way trails.

    PubMed

    Ribeiro, Pedro Leite; Helene, André Frazão; Xavier, Gilberto; Navas, Carlos; Ribeiro, Fernando Leite

    2009-01-01

    The trails formed by many ant species between nest and food source are two-way roads on which outgoing and returning workers meet and touch each other all along. The way to get back home, after grasping a food load, is to take the same route on which they have arrived from the nest. In many species such trails are chemically marked by pheromones providing orientation cues for the ants to find their way. Other species rely on their vision and use landmarks as cues. We have developed a method to stop foraging ants from shuttling on two-way trails. The only way to forage is to take two separate roads, as they cannot go back on their steps after arriving at the food or at the nest. The condition qualifies as a problem because all their orientation cues -- chemical, visual or any other -- are disrupted, as all of them cannot but lead the ants back to the route on which they arrived. We have found that workers of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa can solve the problem. They could not only find the alternative way, but also used the unidirectional traffic system to forage effectively. We suggest that their ability is an evolutionary consequence of the need to deal with environmental irregularities that cannot be negotiated by means of excessively stereotyped behavior, and that it is but an example of a widespread phenomenon. We also suggest that our method can be adapted to other species, invertebrate and vertebrate, in the study of orientation, memory, perception, learning and communication. PMID:19337369

  9. Fluid intake rates in ants correlate with their feeding habits.

    PubMed

    Paul, J; Roces, F

    2003-04-01

    This study investigates the techniques of nectar feeding in 11 different ant species, and quantitatively compares fluid intake rates over a wide range of nectar concentrations in four species that largely differ in their feeding habits. Ants were observed to employ two different techniques for liquid food intake, in which the glossa works either as a passive duct-like structure (sucking), or as an up- and downwards moving shovel (licking). The technique employed for collecting fluids at ad libitum food sources was observed to be species-specific and to correlate with the presence or absence of a well-developed crop in the species under scrutiny. Workers of ponerine ants licked fluid food during foraging and transported it as a droplet between their mandibles, whereas workers of species belonging to phylogenetically more advanced subfamilies, with a crop capable of storing liquids, sucked the fluid food, such as formicine ants of the genus Camponotus. In order to evaluate the performance of fluid collection during foraging, intake rates for sucrose solutions of different concentrations were measured in four ant species that differ in their foraging ecology. Scaling functions between fluid intake rates and ant size were first established for the polymorphic species, so as to compare ants of different size across species. Results showed that fluid intake rate depended, as expected and previously reported in the literature, on sugar concentration and the associated fluid viscosity. It also depended on both the species-specific feeding technique and the extent of specialization on foraging on liquid food. For similarly-sized ants, workers of two nectar-feeding ant species, Camponotus rufipes (Formicinae) and Pachycondyla villosa (Ponerinae), collected fluids with the highest intake rates, while workers of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens (Myrmicinae) and a predatory ant from the Rhytidoponera impressa-complex (Ponerinae) did so with the lowest rate. Calculating the

  10. Critical PO2 of developing Megachile rotundata, the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, Megachile rotundata, is a solitary, cavity-nesting bee. Juvenile bees develop inside brood cells constructed out of leaf pieces. During development inside the brood cell, pre-pupae may experience hypoxic conditions from both the cavity nesting behavior and brood cell ...

  11. Interference of beta-eudesmol in nestmate recognition in Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Marinho, C G S; Della Lucia, T M C; Ribeiro, M M R; Magalhães, S T V; Guedes, R N C; Jham, G N

    2008-10-01

    Leaf-cutter ant species (Atta spp.) are key pests of cultivated crops in the Neotropics, and recent studies have demonstrated that workers of Atta spp., particularly of Atta sexdens rubropilosa, exhibit aggressive behavior among nestmates when in contact with the sesquiterpene beta-eudesmol, found in leaves of Eucalyptus maculata. However, the underlying mechanism sparking this behavior pattern has yet to be investigated. This work aimed to elucidate the mechanism by which this substance elicits aggression in workers of A. sexdens rubropilosa. The results, thus obtained, showed that beta-eudesmol is able to modify the chemical composition of the workers cuticle, impairing nestmate recognition, triggering alarm behavior and leading to nestmate aggression. PMID:18439338

  12. The effect of post-diapause development on respiratory function in the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, Megachile rotundata

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Megachile rotundata, the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, is a solitary, cavity-nesting bee. M. rotundata develop inside brood cells constructed from leaf pieces and sealed with the female’s saliva. During development, M. rotundata may experience hypoxic conditions from the cavity in which they reside; oxy...

  13. Comparison of axillary bud growth and patatin accumulation in potato leaf cuttings as assays for tuber induction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wheeler, R. M.; Hannapel, D. J.; Tibbitts, T. W.

    1988-01-01

    Single-node leaf cuttings from potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) cvs. Norland, Superior, Norchip, and Kennebec, were used to assess tuber induction in plants grown under 12, 16, and 20 h daily irradiation (400 micromol s-1 m-2 PPF). Leaf cuttings were taken from plants at four, six and 15 weeks after planting and cultured for 14 d in sand trays in humid environments. Tuber induction was determined by visually rating the type of growth at the attached axillary bud, and by measuring the accumulation of the major tuber protein, patatin, in the base of the petioles. Axillary buds from leaf cuttings of plants grown under the 12 h photoperiod consistently formed round, sessile tubers at the axils for all four cultivars at all harvests. Buds from cuttings of plants grown under the 16 and 20 h photoperiods exhibited mixed tuber, stolon, and leafy shoot growth. Patatin accumulation was highest in petioles of cuttings taken from 12 h plants for all cultivars at all harvests, with levels in 16 and 20 h cuttings approx. one-half that of the 12 h cuttings. Trends, both in visual ratings of axillary buds and in petiole patatin accumulation, followed the harvest index (ratio of tuber to total plant dry matter), suggesting that either method is an acceptable assay for tuber induction in the potato.

  14. Fungus-growing ants.

    PubMed

    Weber, N A

    1966-08-01

    Fungus-growing ants (Attini) are in reality unique fungus-culturing insects.There are several hundred species in some dozen genera, of which Acromyrmex and Atta are the conspicuous leaf-cutters. The center of their activities is the fungus garden, which is also the site of the queen and brood. The garden, in most species, is made from fresh green leaves or other vegetal material. The ants forage for this, forming distinct trails to the vegetation that is being harvested. The cut leaves or other substrate are brought into the nest and prepared for the fungus. Fresh leaves and flowers are cut into pieces a millimeter or two in diameter; the ants form them into a pulpy mass by pinching them with the mandibles and adding saliva. Anal droplets are deposited on the pieces, which are then forced into place in the garden. Planting of the fungus is accomplished by an ant's picking up tufts of the adjacent mycelium and dotting the surface of the new substrate with it. The combination of salivary and anal secretions, together with the constant care given by the ants, facilitates the growth of the ant fungus only, despite constant possibilities for contamination. When the ants are removed, alien fungi and other organisms flourish. A mature nest of Atta Sexdens may consist of 2000 chambers, some temporarily empty, some with refuse, and the remainder with fungus gardens. Thousands of kilograms of fresh leaves will have been used. A young laboratory colony of Atta cephalotes will use 1 kilogram of fresh leaves for one garden. The attines are the chief agents for introducing organic matter into the soil in tropical rain forests; this matter becomes the nucleus for a host of other organisms, including nematodes and arthropods, after it is discarded by the ants. One ant species cultures a yeast; all others grow a mycelium. In the higher species the mycelium forms clusters of inflated hyphae. Mycologists accept as valid two names for confirmed fruiting stages: Leucocoprinus ( or

  15. Monoculture of Leafcutter Ant Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Mueller, Ulrich G.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Ishak, Heather D.; Cooper, Michael; Rodrigues, Andre

    2010-01-01

    Background Leafcutter ants depend on the cultivation of symbiotic Attamyces fungi for food, which are thought to be grown by the ants in single-strain, clonal monoculture throughout the hundreds to thousands of gardens within a leafcutter nest. Monoculture eliminates cultivar-cultivar competition that would select for competitive fungal traits that are detrimental to the ants, whereas polyculture of several fungi could increase nutritional diversity and disease resistance of genetically variable gardens. Methodology/Principal Findings Using three experimental approaches, we assessed cultivar diversity within nests of Atta leafcutter ants, which are most likely among all fungus-growing ants to cultivate distinct cultivar genotypes per nest because of the nests' enormous sizes (up to 5000 gardens) and extended lifespans (10–20 years). In Atta texana and in A. cephalotes, we resampled nests over a 5-year period to test for persistence of resident cultivar genotypes within each nest, and we tested for genetic differences between fungi from different nest sectors accessed through excavation. In A. texana, we also determined the number of Attamyces cells carried as a starter inoculum by a dispersing queens (minimally several thousand Attamyces cells), and we tested for genetic differences between Attamyces carried by sister queens dispersing from the same nest. Except for mutational variation arising during clonal Attamyces propagation, DNA fingerprinting revealed no evidence for fungal polyculture and no genotype turnover during the 5-year surveys. Conclusions/Significance Atta leafcutter ants can achieve stable, fungal monoculture over many years. Mutational variation emerging within an Attamyces monoculture could provide genetic diversity for symbiont choice (gardening biases of the ants favoring specific mutational variants), an analog of artificial selection. PMID:20844760

  16. Do leaf-cutter ants orient their path-integrated, home vector with a magnetic compass?

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Leaf-cutter ants Atta colombica forage over 250 m in structurally-complex, Neotropical rainforests that occlude sun or polarized light cues. Night foraging makes the use of celestial cues and landmarks all the more difficult. Typically leaf-cutter ants follow architecturally-modified, pheromonally-m...

  17. Implications of season and management protocol on the landscape of gene regulation during diapause development in the Alfalfa Leaf Cutting Bee

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    : The alfalfa leaf cutting bee, Megachile rotundata, is the world’s most intensively managed solitary bee for commercial pollination. It is the primary pollinator of seed alfalfa, a valuable crop for dairy cow feed. Overwintering bees emerge in the spring during alfalfa bloom to mate an...

  18. Toxicological and histopathological effects of boric acid on Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) workers.

    PubMed

    Sumida, Simone; Silva-Zacarin, Elaine C M; Decio, Pâmela; Malaspina, Osmar; Bueno, Fabiana C; Bueno, Odair C

    2010-06-01

    The current study compared the toxicity of different concentrations of boric acid in adult workers of Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with toxicological bioassays, and examining the dose-dependent and time-dependent histopathological changes, of the midgut, Malpighian tubules, and postpharyngeal glands. Our results revealed the importance of conducting toxicological bioassays combined with morphological analyses of the organs of ants chronically exposed to insecticides used in commercial ant baits. In vitro bioassays showed that boric acid significantly decreases the survivorship of workers regardless of concentration, whereas the morphological data suggested progressive dose-dependent and time-dependent changes in the organs examined, which were evident in the midgut. The midgut is the first organ to be affected, followed by the postpharyngeal gland and Malpighian tubules. This sequence is in agreement with the absorption pathway of this chemical compound in the midgut, its transference to the hemolymph, possibly reaching the postpharyngeal glands, and excretion by the Malpighian tubules. These progressive changes might be due to the cumulative and delayed effect of boric acid. Our findings provide important information for the understanding of the action of boric acid in ant baits in direct and indirect target organs.

  19. Use of RAPD analyses to estimate population genetic parameters in the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, Megachile rotundata.

    PubMed

    Lu, R; Rank, G H

    1996-08-01

    RAPD analyses were performed on five geographically isolated populations of Megachile rotundata. We used haploid males of the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, M. rotundata, to overcome the limitation of the dominance of RAPD markers in the determination of population genetic parameters. Sixteen primers gave rise to 130 polymorphic and 31 monomorphic bands. The unbiased estimators calculated in this study include within- and between-population heterozygosity, nucleotide divergence, and genetic distance. The genetic diversity (H = 0.32-0.35) was found to be about 10 times that of previous estimates (H = 0.033) based on allozyme data. Contrary to the data obtained at the protein level, our results suggest that Hymenoptera do not have a lower level of genetic variability at the DNA level compared with other insect species. Regardless of the different assumptions underlying the calculation of heterozygosity, divergence, and genetic distance, all five populations showed a parallel interrelationship for the three parameters. We conclude that RAPD markers are a convenient tool to estimate population genetic variation in haploid M. rotundata and that with an adequate sample size the technique is applicable to the evaluation of divergence in diploid populations. Key words : Megachile rotundata, RAPD, heterozygosity, genetic distance, nucleotide divergence. PMID:18469925

  20. Effect of Tithonia diversifolia mulch on Atta cephalotes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) nests.

    PubMed

    Rodríguez, Jonathan; Montoya-Lerma, James; Calle, Zoraida

    2015-01-01

    Recent studies have shown an insecticidal effect of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) Gray (Asterales: Asteraceae) foliage on workers of Atta cephalotes L. and inhibitory effects of this plant on the growth of the symbiotic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus (A. Müler) Singer. To evaluate the potential of T. diversifolia as a biological control treatment of this important pest, we assessed the effect of green manure (mulch) of this plant on natural nests of A. cephalotes, in Cali, Colombia. Three treatments were randomly assigned to 30 nests: 1) green mulch of T. diversifolia, 2) green mulch of Miconia sp., Ruiz & Pav. and 3) unmulched control. Every 2 wk for 6 mo, the surface of the nests was completely covered with leaves. Physical and chemical parameters of nest soil were assessed before the first and after the last application of the mulch. Ant foraging in T. diversifolia-treated nests decreased by 60% after the initial applications of the mulch, while nest surface area decreased by 40%. When the nests covered with T. diversifolia were opened, it was observed that the superficial fungus chambers had been relocated at a greater depth. In addition, microbial activity and soil pH increased by 84% and 12%, respectively, in nests covered with plant residues. In conclusion, the continued use of T. diversifolia mulch reduces foraging activity and negatively affects the internal conditions of the colonies, thereby inducing the ants to relocate the fungus chambers within the nests.

  1. Effect of Tithonia diversifolia Mulch on Atta cephalotes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Nests

    PubMed Central

    Rodríguez, Jonathan; Montoya-Lerma, James; Calle, Zoraida

    2015-01-01

    Recent studies have shown an insecticidal effect of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) Gray (Asterales: Asteraceae) foliage on workers of Atta cephalotes L. and inhibitory effects of this plant on the growth of the symbiotic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus (A. Müler) Singer. To evaluate the potential of T. diversifolia as a biological control treatment of this important pest, we assessed the effect of green manure (mulch) of this plant on natural nests of A. cephalotes, in Cali, Colombia. Three treatments were randomly assigned to 30 nests: 1) green mulch of T. diversifolia, 2) green mulch of Miconia sp., Ruiz & Pav. and 3) unmulched control. Every 2 wk for 6 mo, the surface of the nests was completely covered with leaves. Physical and chemical parameters of nest soil were assessed before the first and after the last application of the mulch. Ant foraging in T. diversifolia-treated nests decreased by 60% after the initial applications of the mulch, while nest surface area decreased by 40%. When the nests covered with T. diversifolia were opened, it was observed that the superficial fungus chambers had been relocated at a greater depth. In addition, microbial activity and soil pH increased by 84% and 12%, respectively, in nests covered with plant residues. In conclusion, the continued use of T. diversifolia mulch reduces foraging activity and negatively affects the internal conditions of the colonies, thereby inducing the ants to relocate the fungus chambers within the nests. PMID:25843585

  2. Reactions by army ant workers to nestmates having had contact with sympatric ant species.

    PubMed

    Dejean, Alain; Corbara, Bruno

    2014-11-01

    It was recently shown that Pheidole megacephala colonies (an invasive species originating from Africa) counterattack when raided by the army ant, Eciton burchellii. The subsequent contact permits Pheidole cuticular compounds (that constitute the "colony odour") to be transferred onto the raiding Eciton, which are then not recognised by their colony-mates and killed. Using a simple method for transferring cuticular compounds, we tested if this phenomenon occurs for Neotropical ants. Eciton workers rubbed with ants from four sympatric species were released among their colony-mates. Individuals rubbed with Solenopsis saevissima or Camponotus blandus workers were attacked, but not those rubbed with Atta sexdens, Pheidole fallax or with colony-mates (control lot). So, the chemicals of certain sympatric ant species, but not others, trigger intra-colonial aggressiveness in Eciton. We conclude that prey-ant chemicals might have played a role in the evolution of army ant predatory behaviour, likely influencing prey specialization in certain cases. PMID:25444708

  3. Measuring activity in ant colonies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Noda, C.; Fernández, J.; Pérez-Penichet, C.; Altshuler, E.

    2006-12-01

    Ants, as paradigm of social insects, have become a recurrent example of efficient problem solvers via self-organization. In spite of the simple behavior of each individual, the colony as a whole displays "swarm intelligence:" the organization of ant trails for foraging is a typical output of it. But conventional techniques of observation can hardly record the amount of data needed to get a detailed understanding of self-organization of ant swarms in the wild. Here we are presenting a measurement system intended to monitor ant activity in the field comprising massive data acquisition and high sensitivity. A central role is played by an infrared sensor devised specifically to monitor relevant parameters to the activity of ants through the exits of the nest, although other sensors detecting temperature and luminosity are added to the system. We study the characteristics of the activity sensor and its performance in the field. Finally, we present massive data measured at one exit of a nest of Atta insularis, an ant endemic to Cuba, to illustrate the potential of our system.

  4. Genetic diversity and structure of Atta robusta (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Attini), an endangered species endemic to the restinga ecoregion

    PubMed Central

    dos Reis, Evelyze Pinheiro; Fernandes Salomão, Tânia Maria; de Oliveira Campos, Lucio Antonio; Tavares, Mara Garcia

    2014-01-01

    The genetic diversity and structure of the ant Atta robusta were assessed by ISSR (inter-simple sequence repeats) in 72 colonies collected from 10 localities in the Brazilian states of Espírito Santo (48 colonies) and Rio de Janeiro (24 colonies). The ISSR pattern included 67 bands, 51 of them (76.1%) polymorphic. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed a high level (57.4%) of inter-population variation, which suggested a high degree of genetic structure that was confirmed by UPGMA (unweighted pair-group method using an arithmetic average) cluster analysis. The significant correlation between genetic and geographic distances (r = 0.64, p < 0.05) indicated isolation that reflected the distance between locations. Overall, the populations were found to be genetically divergent. This finding indicates the need for management plans to preserve and reduce the risk of extinction of A. robusta. PMID:25249782

  5. The use of alarm pheromones to enhance bait harvest by grass-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Hughes, W O H; Goulson, D

    2002-06-01

    The enhancement of bait for the control of grass-cutting ants was investigated using two species of grass-cutting ant, Atta bisphaerica (Forel) and Atta capiguara (Gonçalves) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Bait was applied in loose piles to obtain a direct relationship between ant attraction and bait harvest. Enhancement with alarm pheromone compounds significantly increased the attractiveness and harvest of bait under certain conditions. A large proportion of the ants attracted to the enhanced bait were minor workers. These ants rarely transport bait because of their small size, and so it may be possible to increase the effect of bait enhancement by using smaller bait granules. Foragers of A. capiguara were less inclined to transport citrus-pulp bait than were those of Atta laevigata (Fr. Smith), a species that also harvests dicotyledonous plants. This emphasizes the importance of developing a bait matrix that is more acceptable to grass-cutting species. Nevertheless, the results suggest that alarm pheromone compounds have significant potential to improve the efficacy of baits for the control of grass-cutting ants. PMID:12088538

  6. Honey Ants.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Conway, John R.

    1984-01-01

    Provides background information on honey ants. These ants are found in dry or desert regions of North America, Africa, and Australia. Also provides a list of activities using local species of ants. (JN)

  7. Metagenomic and metaproteomic insights into bacterial communities in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Burnum, Kristin E.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Suen, Garret; Tringe, Susannah G.; Adams, Sandra M.; Barry, Kerrie W.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Starrett, Gabriel J.; Goodwin, Lynne A.; Smith, Richard D.; Lipton, Mary S.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2012-09-01

    Herbivores gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass largely by harnessing the metabolic activities of microbes. Leaf-cutter ants of the genus Atta are a hallmark example; these dominant Neotropical herbivores cultivate symbiotic fungus gardens on massive quantities of fresh plant forage. As the external digestive system of the ants, fungus gardens facilitate the production and sustenance of millions of workers in mature Atta colonies. Here we use metagenomic, and metaproteomic techniques to characterize the bacterial diversity and overall physiological potential of fungus gardens from two species of Atta. Our analysis of over 1.2 Gbp of community metagenomic sequence and three 16S pyrotag libraries reveals that, in addition to harboring the dominant fungal crop, these ecosystems contain abundant populations of Enterobacteriaceae, including the genera Enterobacter, Pantoea, Klebsiella, Citrobacter, and Escherichia. We show that these bacterial communities possess genes commonly associated with lignocellulose degradation, and likely participate in the processing of plant biomass. Additionally, we demonstrate that bacteria in these environments encode a diverse suite of biosynthetic pathways, and that they may enrich the nitrogen-poor forage of the ants with B-vitamins, amino acids, and proteins. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that fungus gardens are highly-specialized fungus-bacteria communities that efficiently convert plant material into usable energy for their ant hosts. Together with recent investigations into the microbial symbionts of vertebrates, our work underscores the importance of microbial communities to the ecology and evolution of herbivorous metazoans.

  8. Mutualistic fungi control crop diversity in fungus-growing ants.

    PubMed

    Poulsen, Michael; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2005-02-01

    Leaf-cutting ants rear clonal fungi for food and transmit the fungi from mother to daughter colonies so that symbiont mixing and conflict, which result from competition between genetically different clones, are avoided. Here we show that despite millions of years of predominantly vertical transmission, the domesticated fungi actively reject mycelial fragments from neighboring colonies, and that the strength of these reactions are in proportion to the overall genetic difference between these symbionts. Fungal incompatibility compounds remain intact during ant digestion, so that fecal droplets, which are used for manuring newly grown fungus, elicit similar hostile reactions when applied to symbionts from other colonies. Symbiont control over new mycelial growth by manurial imprinting prevents the rearing of multiple crops in fungus gardens belonging to the same colony. PMID:15692054

  9. Reciprocal genomic evolution in the ant-fungus agricultural symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Nygaard, Sanne; Hu, Haofu; Li, Cai; Schiøtt, Morten; Chen, Zhensheng; Yang, Zhikai; Xie, Qiaolin; Ma, Chunyu; Deng, Yuan; Dikow, Rebecca B; Rabeling, Christian; Nash, David R; Wcislo, William T; Brady, Seán G; Schultz, Ted R; Zhang, Guojie; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2016-01-01

    The attine ant-fungus agricultural symbiosis evolved over tens of millions of years, producing complex societies with industrial-scale farming analogous to that of humans. Here we document reciprocal shifts in the genomes and transcriptomes of seven fungus-farming ant species and their fungal cultivars. We show that ant subsistence farming probably originated in the early Tertiary (55-60 MYA), followed by further transitions to the farming of fully domesticated cultivars and leaf-cutting, both arising earlier than previously estimated. Evolutionary modifications in the ants include unprecedented rates of genome-wide structural rearrangement, early loss of arginine biosynthesis and positive selection on chitinase pathways. Modifications of fungal cultivars include loss of a key ligninase domain, changes in chitin synthesis and a reduction in carbohydrate-degrading enzymes as the ants gradually transitioned to functional herbivory. In contrast to human farming, increasing dependence on a single cultivar lineage appears to have been essential to the origin of industrial-scale ant agriculture. PMID:27436133

  10. Technical Manual for Attitudes Towards Teaching All Students (ATTAS-mm) Instrument

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gregory, Jess L.; Noto, Lori A.

    2012-01-01

    The general education teacher has the greatest influence on a student's success in school, and a teacher's attitude towards inclusion is a major factor in determining whether inclusion will be successful. The ATTAS-mm is a 9-item scale with strong reliability and validity. The three subscales: believing all students can succeed in general…

  11. ATTA-3: a State-of-the-Art Instrument for Radio-Krypton Dating

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jiang, W.; Zappala, J. C.; Bailey, K.; Lu, Z.; Müller, P.; O'Connor, T. P.

    2013-12-01

    The ATTA-3 instrument at Argonne has recently enabled routine Kr-81 dating. The instrument is based on Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA), a novel laser based atom counting technique that allows detection of long lived noble gas radioisotopes (Kr-81, Kr-85 and Ar-39) with extremely low abundance (1E-16 to 1E-10). At the center of the instrument is a magneto-optical trap (MOT), which traps and counts only the atoms of the desired isotope. This unique feature makes ATTA free of interference from any other isotopes or molecular species. For Kr-81 dating in the age range of 150 - 1,500 kyr, the required sample size is 5 - 10 micro-L STP of krypton gas, which can be extracted from approximately 100 - 200 kg of water or 40 - 80 kg of ice. Several recent developments in our lab may lead to further improvements to the current ATTA-3 apparatus: 1) The isotopic abundance ratio between the unknown, rare isotope (either Kr-81 or Kr-85) and the stable, abundant isotope (Kr-83) is measured. Here the stable isotope serves as a control isotope. A new method has been developed that allows more accurate measurements of the control isotope Kr-83. Combined with the ability to measure the rare Kr-81 and Kr-85 isotopes, this scheme allows ATTA-3 to directly determine 81Kr/Kr and 85Kr/Kr ratios without other supplemental measurements, to reduce the overall uncertainties of the measured isotope ratios, and also to improve the long term stability of the system. 2) The current capacity of the ATTA-3 instrument is about 120 samples per year. The throughput is mainly limited by the so called 'memory effect', which is caused by the residual samples trapped in the system after each measurement. These residual samples are gradually released in subsequent measurements, causing cross-sample contaminations. In order to mitigate this problem, we wash the system with a xenon discharge for about 36 hours between measurements. This practice limits the overall sample processing speed. Preliminary

  12. The Evolutionary Innovation of Nutritional Symbioses in Leaf-Cutter Ants

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Currie, Cameron R.; Suen, Garret

    2012-01-01

    Fungus-growing ants gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass through their association with a mutualistic fungus they grow for food. This 50 million-year-old obligate mutualism likely facilitated some of these species becoming dominant Neotropical herbivores that can achieve immense colony sizes. Recent culture-independent investigations have shed light on the conversion of plant biomass into nutrients within ant fungus gardens, revealing that this process involves both the fungal cultivar and a symbiotic community of bacteria including Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Pantoea species. Moreover, the genome sequences of the leaf-cutter ants Atta cephalotes and Acromyrmex echinatior have provided key insights into how this symbiosis has shaped the evolution of these ants at a genetic level. Here we summarize the findings of recent research on the microbial community dynamics within fungus-growing ant fungus gardens and discuss their implications for this ancient symbiosis. PMID:26467948

  13. Ecology of microfungal communities in gardens of fungus-growing ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): a year-long survey of three species of attine ants in Central Texas.

    PubMed

    Rodrigues, Andre; Mueller, Ulrich G; Ishak, Heather D; Bacci, Maurício; Pagnocca, Fernando C

    2011-11-01

    We profiled the microfungal communities in gardens of fungus-growing ants to evaluate possible species-specific ant-microfungal associations and to assess the potential dependencies of microfungal diversity on ant foraging behavior. In a 1-year survey, we isolated microfungi from nests of Cyphomyrmex wheeleri, Trachymyrmex septentrionalis and Atta texana in Central Texas. Microfungal prevalence was higher in gardens of C. wheeleri (57%) than in the gardens of T. septentrionalis (46%) and A. texana (35%). Culture-dependent methods coupled with a polyphasic approach of species identification revealed diverse and changing microfungal communities in all the sampling periods. Diversity analyses showed no obvious correlations between the number of observed microfungal species, ant species, or the ants' changing foraging behavior across the seasons. However, both correspondence analysis and 5.8S-rRNA gene unifrac analyses suggested structuring of microfungal communities by ant host. These host-specific differences may reflect in part the three different environments where ants were collected. Most interestingly, the specialized fungal parasite Escovopsis was not isolated from any attine garden in this study near the northernmost limit of the range of attine ants, contrasting with previous studies that indicated a significant incidence of this parasite in ant gardens from Central and South America. The observed differences of microfungal communities in attine gardens suggest that the ants are continuously in contact with a diverse microfungal species assemblage.

  14. Ant Tower

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mlot, Nathan; Shinotsuka, Sho; Hu, David

    2010-11-01

    Ants walk via adhesive drops of fluid extruded by their feet. They also use these drops as mortar to build structures such as rafts, bridges and towers, each composed of thousands of ants linked together. We investigate experimentally the construction of triangular ant towers braced by hydrophobic walls. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between tower height and contact angle hysteresis of the wall. We rationalize tower height according to ant adhesion, and tower shape according to the constraints on a column of constant strength.

  15. The thermoregulatory function of thatched nests in the South American grass-cutting ant, Acromyrmex heyeri.

    PubMed

    Bollazzi, Martin; Roces, Flavio

    2010-01-01

    The construction of mound-shaped nests by ants is considered as a behavioral adaptation to low environmental temperatures, i.e., colonies achieve higher and more stables temperatures than those of the environment. Besides the well-known nests of boreal Formica wood-ants, several species of South American leaf-cutting ants of the genus Acromyrmex construct thatched nests. Acromyrmex workers import plant fragments as building material, and arrange them so as to form a thatch covering a central chamber, where the fungus garden is located. Thus, the degree of thermoregulation attained by the fungus garden inside the thatched nest largely depends on how the thatch affects the thermal relations between the fungus and the environment. This work was aimed at studying the thermoregulatory function of the thatched nests built by the grass-cutting ant Acromyrmex heyeri Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Nest and environmental temperatures were measured as a function of solar radiation on the long-term. The thermal diffusivity of the nest thatch was measured and compared to that of the surrounding soil, in order to assess the influence of the building material on the nest's thermoregulatory ability. The results showed that the average core temperature of thatched nests was higher than that of the environment, but remained below values harmful for the fungus. This thermoregulation was brought about by the low thermal diffusivity of the nest thatch built by workers with plant fragments, instead of the readily-available soil particles that have a higher thermal diffusivity. The thatch prevented diurnal nest overheating by the incoming solar radiation, and avoided losses of the accumulated daily heat into the cold air during the night. The adaptive value of thatching behavior in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants occurring in the southernmost distribution range is discussed.

  16. The Thermoregulatory Function of Thatched Nests in the South American Grass-Cutting Ant, Acromyrmex heyeri

    PubMed Central

    Bollazzi, Martin; Roces, Flavio

    2010-01-01

    The construction of mound-shaped nests by ants is considered as a behavioral adaptation to low environmental temperatures, i.e., colonies achieve higher and more stables temperatures than those of the environment. Besides the well-known nests of boreal Formica wood-ants, several species of South American leaf-cutting ants of the genus Acromyrmex construct thatched nests. Acromyrmex workers import plant fragments as building material, and arrange them so as to form a thatch covering a central chamber, where the fungus garden is located. Thus, the degree of thermoregulation attained by the fungus garden inside the thatched nest largely depends on how the thatch affects the thermal relations between the fungus and the environment. This work was aimed at studying the thermoregulatory function of the thatched nests built by the grass-cutting ant Acromyrmex heyeri Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Nest and environmental temperatures were measured as a function of solar radiation on the long-term. The thermal diffusivity of the nest thatch was measured and compared to that of the surrounding soil, in order to assess the influence of the building material on the nest's thermoregulatory ability. The results showed that the average core temperature of thatched nests was higher than that of the environment, but remained below values harmful for the fungus. This thermoregulation was brought about by the low thermal diffusivity of the nest thatch built by workers with plant fragments, instead of the readily-available soil particles that have a higher thermal diffusivity. The thatch prevented diurnal nest overheating by the incoming solar radiation, and avoided losses of the accumulated daily heat into the cold air during the night. The adaptive value of thatching behavior in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants occurring in the southernmost distribution range is discussed. PMID:20883129

  17. Metagenomic and metaproteomic insights into bacterial communities in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O; Burnum, Kristin E; Scott, Jarrod J; Suen, Garret; Tringe, Susannah G; Adams, Sandra M; Barry, Kerrie W; Nicora, Carrie D; Piehowski, Paul D; Purvine, Samuel O; Starrett, Gabriel J; Goodwin, Lynne A; Smith, Richard D; Lipton, Mary S; Currie, Cameron R

    2012-01-01

    Herbivores gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass largely by harnessing the metabolic activities of microbes. Leaf-cutter ants of the genus Atta are a hallmark example; these dominant neotropical herbivores cultivate symbiotic fungus gardens on large quantities of fresh plant forage. As the external digestive system of the ants, fungus gardens facilitate the production and sustenance of millions of workers. Using metagenomic and metaproteomic techniques, we characterize the bacterial diversity and physiological potential of fungus gardens from two species of Atta. Our analysis of over 1.2 Gbp of community metagenomic sequence and three 16S pyrotag libraries reveals that in addition to harboring the dominant fungal crop, these ecosystems contain abundant populations of Enterobacteriaceae, including the genera Enterobacter, Pantoea, Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Escherichia. We show that these bacterial communities possess genes associated with lignocellulose degradation and diverse biosynthetic pathways, suggesting that they play a role in nutrient cycling by converting the nitrogen-poor forage of the ants into B-vitamins, amino acids and other cellular components. Our metaproteomic analysis confirms that bacterial glycosyl hydrolases and proteins with putative biosynthetic functions are produced in both field-collected and laboratory-reared colonies. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that fungus gardens are specialized fungus–bacteria communities that convert plant material into energy for their ant hosts. Together with recent investigations into the microbial symbionts of vertebrates, our work underscores the importance of microbial communities in the ecology and evolution of herbivorous metazoans. PMID:22378535

  18. Bacterial community composition and diversity in an ancestral ant fungus symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Kellner, Katrin; Ishak, Heather D; Linksvayer, Timothy A; Mueller, Ulrich G

    2015-07-01

    Fungus-farming ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae, Attini) exhibit some of the most complex microbial symbioses because both macroscopic partners (ants and fungus) are associated with a rich community of microorganisms. The ant and fungal microbiomes are thought to serve important beneficial nutritional and defensive roles in these symbioses. While most recent research has investigated the bacterial communities in the higher attines (e.g. the leaf-cutter ant genera Atta and Acromyrmex), which are often associated with antibiotic-producing Actinobacteria, very little is known about the microbial communities in basal lineages, labeled as 'lower attines', which retain the ancestral traits of smaller and more simple societies. In this study, we used 16S amplicon pyrosequencing to characterize bacterial communities of the lower attine ant Mycocepurus smithii among seven sampling sites in central Panama. We discovered that ant and fungus garden-associated microbiota were distinct from surrounding soil, but unlike the situation in the derived fungus-gardening ants, which show distinct ant and fungal microbiomes, microbial community structure of the ants and their fungi were similar. Another surprising finding was that the abundance of actinomycete bacteria was low and instead, these symbioses were characterized by an abundance of Lactobacillus and Pantoea bacteria. Furthermore, our data indicate that Lactobacillus strains are acquired from the environment rather than acquired vertically. PMID:26113689

  19. Trade-offs in antiherbivore defenses in Piper cenocladum: ant mutualists versus plant secondary metabolites.

    PubMed

    Dyer, L A; Dodson, C D; Beihoffer, J; Letourneau, D K

    2001-03-01

    Ant-plant mutualisms may provide indirect evidence for costs of antiherbivore defenses when plants demonstrate trade-offs between allocating resources and energy into ant attractants versus chemical defenses. We tested the hypothesis that ecological trade-offs in defenses are present in Piper cenocladum. This plant possesses two distinct defenses: food bodies that attract predatory ants that destroy herbivore eggs and amides that deter herbivores. Previous studies have demonstrated that the food bodies in P. cenocladum are an effective defense because the ants deter herbivory by specialist herbivores. Amides in other Piper species have been shown to have toxic qualities, but we tested the additional hypothesis that these amides have an actual defensive function in P. cenocladum. To test for ecological trade-offs between the two putative defenses, fragments of P. cenocladum were examined for the presence of amides both when the plant was producing food bodies and when it was not producing food bodies. Plants with active ant colonies had redundant defenses, producing food bodies and high levels of amides at the same time, but we detected a trade-off in that they had significantly lower levels of amides than did plants with no ants. To test for the defensive value of P. cenocladum amides, we used an ant bioassay and we examined herbivory results from previous experiments with plants that had variable levels of amides. These tests demonstrated that amides are deterrent to omnivorous ants, leaf cutting ants, and orthopterans. In contrast, the resident Pheidole bicornis ants are effective at deterring herbivory by specialist herbivores that oviposit eggs on the plant but not at deterring herbivory by nonresident omnivores. We concluded that although both amides and food body production appear to be costly, redundancy in defenses is necessary to avoid damage by a complex suit of herbivores.

  20. The Ants Have It!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Daugherty, Belinda

    2001-01-01

    Uses the GEMS guide, "Ants at Home Underground", to explore the life of ants and teach about them in a classroom setting. The activity applies students' knowledge of ants and students learn about ant colonies, what ants eat, and how they live. (SAH)

  1. Identifying the transition between single and multiple mating of queens in fungus-growing ants.

    PubMed Central

    Villesen, Palle; Murakami, Takahiro; Schultz, Ted R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2002-01-01

    Obligate mating of females (queens) with multiple males has evolved only rarely in social Hymenoptera (ants, social bees, social wasps) and for reasons that are fundamentally different from those underlying multiple mating in other animals. The monophyletic tribe of ('attine') fungus-growing ants is known to include evolutionarily derived genera with obligate multiple mating (the Acromyrmex and Atta leafcutter ants) as well as phylogenetically basal genera with exclusively single mating (e.g. Apterostigma, Cyphomyrmex, Myrmicocrypta). All attine genera share the unique characteristic of obligate dependence on symbiotic fungus gardens for food, but the sophistication of this symbiosis differs considerably across genera. The lower attine genera generally have small, short-lived colonies and relatively non-specialized fungal symbionts (capable of living independently of their ant hosts), whereas the four evolutionarily derived higher attine genera have highly specialized, long-term clonal symbionts. In this paper, we investigate whether the transition from single to multiple mating occurred relatively recently in the evolution of the attine ants, in conjunction with the novel herbivorous 'leafcutter' niche acquired by the common ancestor of Acromyrmex and Atta, or earlier, at the transition to rearing specialized long-term clonal fungi in the common ancestor of the larger group of higher attines that also includes the genera Trachymyrmex and Sericomyrmex. We use DNA microsatellite analysis to provide unambiguous evidence for a single, late and abrupt evolutionary transition from exclusively single to obligatory multiple mating. This transition is historically correlated with other evolutionary innovations, including the extensive use of fresh vegetation as substrate for the fungus garden, a massive increase in mature colony size and morphological differentiation of the worker caste. PMID:12184823

  2. Ant nebula

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1999-01-01

    A new Hubble Space Telescope image of a celestial object called the Ant Nebula may shed new light on the future demise of our Sun. The image is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/pictures/wfpc .

    The nebula, imaged on July 20, 1997, and June 30, 1998, by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, was observed by Drs. Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Bruce Balick of the University of Washington in Seattle; and Vincent Icke of Leiden University in the Netherlands. JPL designed and built the camera.

    The Ant Nebula, whose technical name is Mz3, resembles the head and thorax of an ant when observed with ground-based telescopes. The new Hubble image, with 10 times the resolution revealing 100 times more detail, shows the 'ant's' body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun- like star. The Ant Nebula is located between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma.

    The image challenges old ideas about what happens to dying stars. This observation, along with other pictures of various remnants of dying stars called planetary nebulae, shows that our Sun's fate will probably be much more interesting, complex and dramatic than astronomers previously believed.

    Although the ejection of gas from the dying star in the Ant Nebula is violent, it does not show the chaos one might expect from an ordinary explosion, but instead shows symmetrical patterns. One possibility is that the central star has a closely orbiting companion whose gravitational tidal forces shape the outflowing gas. A second possibility is that as the dying star spins, its strong magnetic fields are wound up into complex shapes like spaghetti in an eggbeater. Electrically charged winds, much like those in our Sun's solar wind but millions of times denser and moving at speeds up to 1,000 kilometers per second (more than 600 miles per second) from the star, follow the twisted field lines on their way

  3. Evolution of cold-tolerant fungal symbionts permits winter fungiculture by leafcutter ants at the northern frontier of a tropical ant-fungus symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Mueller, Ulrich G; Mikheyev, Alexander S; Hong, Eunki; Sen, Ruchira; Warren, Dan L; Solomon, Scott E; Ishak, Heather D; Cooper, Mike; Miller, Jessica L; Shaffer, Kimberly A; Juenger, Thomas E

    2011-03-01

    The obligate mutualism between leafcutter ants and their Attamyces fungi originated 8 to 12 million years ago in the tropics, but extends today also into temperate regions in South and North America. The northernmost leafcutter ant Atta texana sustains fungiculture during winter temperatures that would harm the cold-sensitive Attamyces cultivars of tropical leafcutter ants. Cold-tolerance of Attamyces cultivars increases with winter harshness along a south-to-north temperature gradient across the range of A. texana, indicating selection for cold-tolerant Attamyces variants along the temperature cline. Ecological niche modeling corroborates winter temperature as a key range-limiting factor impeding northward expansion of A. texana. The northernmost A. texana populations are able to sustain fungiculture throughout winter because of their cold-adapted fungi and because of seasonal, vertical garden relocation (maintaining gardens deep in the ground in winter to protect them from extreme cold, then moving gardens to warmer, shallow depths in spring). Although the origin of leafcutter fungiculture was an evolutionary breakthrough that revolutionized the food niche of tropical fungus-growing ants, the original adaptations of this host-microbe symbiosis to tropical temperatures and the dependence on cold-sensitive fungal symbionts eventually constrained expansion into temperate habitats. Evolution of cold-tolerant fungi within the symbiosis relaxed constraints on winter fungiculture at the northern frontier of the leafcutter ant distribution, thereby expanding the ecological niche of an obligate host-microbe symbiosis. PMID:21368106

  4. Leucoagaricus gongylophorus Produces Diverse Enzymes for the Degradation of Recalcitrant Plant Polymers in Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Tringe, Susannah G.; Teiling, Clotilde; Tremmel, Daniel M.; Moeller, Joseph A.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Barry, Kerrie W.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Malfatti, Stephanie A.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Goodwin, Lynne A.; Smith, Richard D.; Weinstock, George M.; Gerardo, Nicole M.; Suen, Garret; Lipton, Mary S.

    2013-01-01

    Plants represent a large reservoir of organic carbon comprised primarily of recalcitrant polymers that most metazoans are unable to deconstruct. Many herbivores gain access to nutrients in this material indirectly by associating with microbial symbionts, and leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example. These ants use fresh foliar biomass as manure to cultivate gardens composed primarily of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a basidiomycetous fungus that produces specialized hyphal swellings that serve as a food source for the host ant colony. Although leaf-cutter ants are conspicuous herbivores that contribute substantially to carbon turnover in Neotropical ecosystems, the process through which plant biomass is degraded in their fungus gardens is not well understood. Here we present the first draft genome of L. gongylophorus, and, using genomic and metaproteomic tools, we investigate its role in lignocellulose degradation in the gardens of both Atta cephalotes and Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutter ants. We show that L. gongylophorus produces a diversity of lignocellulases in ant gardens and is likely the primary driver of plant biomass degradation in these ecosystems. We also show that this fungus produces distinct sets of lignocellulases throughout the different stages of biomass degradation, including numerous cellulases and laccases that likely play an important role in lignocellulose degradation. Our study provides a detailed analysis of plant biomass degradation in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens and insight into the enzymes underlying the symbiosis between these dominant herbivores and their obligate fungal cultivar. PMID:23584789

  5. A metabolic pathway assembled by enzyme selection may support herbivory of leaf-cutter ants on plant starch.

    PubMed

    Bacci, Maurício; Bueno, Odair Correa; Rodrigues, André; Pagnocca, Fernando Carlos; Somera, Alexandre Favarin; Silva, Aline

    2013-05-01

    Mutualistic associations shape the evolution in different organism groups. The association between the leaf-cutter ant Atta sexdens and the basidiomycete fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus has enabled them to degrade starch from plant material generating glucose, which is a major food source for both mutualists. Starch degradation is promoted by enzymes contained in the fecal fluid that ants deposit on the fungus culture in cut leaves inside the nests. To understand the dynamics of starch degradation in ant nests, we purified and characterized starch degrading enzymes from the ant fecal fluid and from laboratory cultures of L. gongylophorus and found that the ants intestine positively selects fungal α-amylase and a maltase likely produced by the ants, as a negative selection is imposed to fungal maltase and ant α-amylases. Selected enzymes are more resistant to catabolic repression by glucose and proposed to structure a metabolic pathway in which the fungal α-amylase initiates starch catalysis to generate byproducts which are sequentially degraded by the maltase to produce glucose. The pathway is responsible for effective degradation of starch and proposed to represent a major evolutionary innovation enabling efficient starch assimilation from plant material by leaf-cutters.

  6. Discovery of defense- and neuropeptides in social ants by genome-mining.

    PubMed

    Gruber, Christian W; Muttenthaler, Markus

    2012-01-01

    Natural peptides of great number and diversity occur in all organisms, but analyzing their peptidome is often difficult. With natural product drug discovery in mind, we devised a genome-mining approach to identify defense- and neuropeptides in the genomes of social ants from Atta cephalotes (leaf-cutter ant), Camponotus floridanus (carpenter ant) and Harpegnathos saltator (basal genus). Numerous peptide-encoding genes of defense peptides, in particular defensins, and neuropeptides or regulatory peptide hormones, such as allatostatins and tachykinins, were identified and analyzed. Most interestingly we annotated genes that encode oxytocin/vasopressin-related peptides (inotocins) and their putative receptors. This is the first piece of evidence for the existence of this nonapeptide hormone system in ants (Formicidae) and supports recent findings in Tribolium castaneum (red flour beetle) and Nasonia vitripennis (parasitoid wasp), and therefore its confinement to some basal holometabolous insects. By contrast, the absence of the inotocin hormone system in Apis mellifera (honeybee), another closely-related member of the eusocial Hymenoptera clade, establishes the basis for future studies on the molecular evolution and physiological function of oxytocin/vasopressin-related peptides (vasotocin nonapeptide family) and their receptors in social insects. Particularly the identification of ant inotocin and defensin peptide sequences will provide a basis for future pharmacological characterization in the quest for potent and selective lead compounds of therapeutic value.

  7. Reduced biological control and enhanced chemical pest management in the evolution of fungus farming in ants.

    PubMed

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Zimmerman, Jess K; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Wcislo, William T

    2009-06-22

    To combat disease, most fungus-growing ants (Attini) use antibiotics from mutualistic bacteria (Pseudonocardia) that are cultured on the ants' exoskeletons and chemical cocktails from exocrine glands, especially the metapleural glands (MG). Previous work has hypothesized that (i) Pseudonocardia antibiotics are narrow-spectrum and control a fungus (Escovopsis) that parasitizes the ants' fungal symbiont, and (ii) MG secretions have broad-spectrum activity and protect ants and brood. We assessed the relative importance of these lines of defence, and their activity spectra, by scoring abundance of visible Pseudonocardia for nine species from five genera and measuring rates of MG grooming after challenging ants with disease agents of differing virulence. Atta and Sericomyrmex have lost or greatly reduced the abundance of visible bacteria. When challenged with diverse disease agents, including Escovopsis, they significantly increased MG grooming rates and expanded the range of targets. By contrast, species of Acromyrmex and Trachymyrmex maintain abundant Pseudonocardia. When challenged, these species had lower MG grooming rates, targeted primarily to brood. More elaborate MG defences and reduced reliance on mutualistic Pseudonocardia are correlated with larger colony size among attine genera, raising questions about the efficacy of managing disease in large societies with chemical cocktails versus bacterial antimicrobial metabolites.

  8. Discovery of defense- and neuropeptides in social ants by genome-mining.

    PubMed

    Gruber, Christian W; Muttenthaler, Markus

    2012-01-01

    Natural peptides of great number and diversity occur in all organisms, but analyzing their peptidome is often difficult. With natural product drug discovery in mind, we devised a genome-mining approach to identify defense- and neuropeptides in the genomes of social ants from Atta cephalotes (leaf-cutter ant), Camponotus floridanus (carpenter ant) and Harpegnathos saltator (basal genus). Numerous peptide-encoding genes of defense peptides, in particular defensins, and neuropeptides or regulatory peptide hormones, such as allatostatins and tachykinins, were identified and analyzed. Most interestingly we annotated genes that encode oxytocin/vasopressin-related peptides (inotocins) and their putative receptors. This is the first piece of evidence for the existence of this nonapeptide hormone system in ants (Formicidae) and supports recent findings in Tribolium castaneum (red flour beetle) and Nasonia vitripennis (parasitoid wasp), and therefore its confinement to some basal holometabolous insects. By contrast, the absence of the inotocin hormone system in Apis mellifera (honeybee), another closely-related member of the eusocial Hymenoptera clade, establishes the basis for future studies on the molecular evolution and physiological function of oxytocin/vasopressin-related peptides (vasotocin nonapeptide family) and their receptors in social insects. Particularly the identification of ant inotocin and defensin peptide sequences will provide a basis for future pharmacological characterization in the quest for potent and selective lead compounds of therapeutic value. PMID:22448224

  9. The role of the symbiotic fungus in the digestive metabolism of two species of fungus-growing ants.

    PubMed

    D'Ettorre, P; Mora, P; Dibangou, V; Rouland, C; Errard, C

    2002-02-01

    Leaf-cutting ants live in an obligatory symbiosis with a fungus which they grow on fresh leaves harvested by workers. This study attempts to clarify the respective role of ants and fungus in the degradation of plant material, in order to highlight the evolutionary basis of this mutualistic association. The symbiotic system of two ant species, Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus and Acromyrmex crassispinus, was investigated. To identify the digestive carbohydrases, a total of 19 specific and synthetic plant material substrates were tested on workers from different castes (major and minor), larvae and fungus. Extracts of A. subterraneus and A. crassispinus workers showed high enzymatic activity particularly on starch, maltose, sucrose and alpha-1,4 glucoside. Larvae degraded starch, sucrose, maltose but also laminarin, and all the detected activities were higher than those found for workers. The symbiotic fungus of A. subterraneus was mostly active on laminarin, xylan and cellulose, while the symbiotic fungus of A. crassispinus was mostly active on laminarin, starch, maltose and sucrose. The enzymatic activities of ants and fungus belonging to the same symbiotic system tended not to overlap, suggesting that the association is highly evolved and of an ancient origin.

  10. Are ant assemblages of Brazilian veredas characterised by location or habitat type?

    PubMed

    Costa-Milanez, C B; Lourenço-Silva, G; Castro, P T A; Majer, J D; Ribeiro, S P

    2014-02-01

    Wetland areas in the Brazilian Cerrado, known as "veredas", represent ecosystems formed on sandy soils with high concentrations of peat, and are responsible for the recharge of aquiferous reservoirs. They are currently under threat by various human activities, most notably the clearing of vegetation for Eucalyptus plantations. Despite their ecological importance and high conservation value, little is known about the actual effects of human disturbance on the animal community. To assess how habitat within different veredas, and plantations surrounding them affect ant assemblages, we selected four independent vereda locations, two being impacted by Eucalyptus monoculture (one younger and one mature plantation) and two controls, where the wetland was surrounded by cerrado vegetation. Ant sampling was conducted in May 2010 (dry season) using three complementary methods, namely baits, pitfall traps, and hand collection, in the wetland and in the surrounding habitats. A total of 7,575 ants were sampled, belonging to seven subfamilies, 32 genera and 124 species. Ant species richness and abundance did not differ between vereda locations, but did between the habitats. When impacted by the monoculture, ant species richness and abundance decreased in wetlands, but were less affected in the cerrado habitat. Ant species composition differed between the three habitats and between vereda locations. Eucalyptus plantations had an ant species composition defined by high dominance of Pheidole sp. and Solenopsis invicta, while natural habitats were defined by Camponotus and Crematogaster species. Atta sexdens was strictly confined to native habitats of non-impacted "veredas". Eucalyptus monocultures require high quantities of water in the early stages, which may have caused a decrease in groundwater level in the wetland, allowing hypogeic ants such as Labidus praedator to colonise this habitat.

  11. The ant raft

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mlot, Nathan; Hu, David; Equabai, Solomon

    2009-11-01

    To survive floods, fire ants link their arms together to assemble a raft with their own bodies. Because ants are nearly as dense as water, this cooperative behavior requires that a portion of the ant colony must sacrifice itself by remaining underwater to support the colony's weight. Surprisingly, few ants drown during this process due to a striking metamorphosis of the raft: as we show using time-lapse photography, the raft morphs from a spherical to a pancake shape. This pancake configuration--a monolayer of floating ants supporting their dry counterparts--allows all ants to both breathe and remain united as a colony. Data is presented in the form of the dimensions and the rates of formation of the ant raft. We use the statics of small floating bodies to account for the equilibrium raft size as a function of the initial mass and density of the ants.

  12. Leucoagaricus gongylophorus Produces Diverse Enzymes for the Degradation of Recalcitrant Plant Polymers in Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Tringe, Susannah G.; Teiling, Clotilde; Tremmel, Daniel; Moeller, Joseph; Scott, Jarrod J.; Barry, Kerrie W.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Malfatti, Stephanie; Monroe, Matthew E.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Goodwin, Lynne A.; Smith, Richard D.; Weinstock, George; Gerardo, Nicole; Suen, Garret; Lipton, Mary S.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2013-06-12

    Plants represent a large reservoir of organic carbon comprised largely of recalcitrant polymers that most metazoans are unable to deconstruct. Many herbivores gain access to nutrients in this material indirectly by associating with microbial symbionts, and leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example. These ants use fresh foliar biomass as manure to cultivate fungus gardens composed primarily of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a basidiomycetous symbiont that produces specialized hyphal swellings that serve as a food source for the host ant colony. Although leaf-cutter ants are conspicuous herbivores that contribute substantially to carbon turnover in Neotropical ecosystems, the process through which plant biomass is degraded in their fungus gardens is not well understood. Here we present the first draft genome of L. gongylophorus, and using genomic, metaproteomic, and phylogenetic tools we investigate its role in lignocellulose degradation in the fungus gardens of both Atta cephalotes and Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutter ants. We show that L. gongylophorus produces a diversity of lignocellulases in fungus gardens, and is likely the primary driver of plant biomass degradation in these ecosystems. We also show that this fungus produces distinct sets of lignocellulases throughout the different stages of biomass degradation, including numerous cellulases and laccases that may be playing an important but previously uncharacterized role in lignocellulose degradation. Our study provides a comprehensive analysis of plant biomass degradation in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens and provides insight into the molecular dynamics underlying the symbiosis between these dominant herbivores and their obligate fungal cultivar.

  13. Identification and Expression of Capa Gene in the Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta

    PubMed Central

    Choi, Man-Yeon; Köhler, Rene; Vander Meer, Robert K.; Neupert, Susanne; Predel, Reinhard

    2014-01-01

    Recent genome analyses suggested the absence of a number of neuropeptide genes in ants. One of the apparently missing genes was the capa gene. Capa gene expression in insects is typically associated with the neuroendocrine system of abdominal ganglia; mature CAPA peptides are known to regulate diuresis and visceral muscle contraction. The apparent absence of the capa gene raised questions about possible compensation of these functions. In this study, we re-examined this controversial issue and searched for a potentially unrecognized capa gene in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. We employed a combination of data mining and a traditional PCR-based strategy using degenerate primers designed from conserved amino acid sequences of insect capa genes. Our findings demonstrate that ants possess and express a capa gene. As shown by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, processed products of the S. invicta capa gene include three CAPA periviscerokinins and low amounts of a pyrokinin which does not have the C-terminal WFGPRLa motif typical of CAPA pyrokinins in other insects. The capa gene was found with two alternative transcripts in the CNS. Within the ventral nerve cord, two capa neurons were immunostained in abdominal neuromeres 2–5, respectively, and projected into ventrally located abdominal perisympathetic organs (PSOs), which are the major hormone release sites of abdominal ganglia. The ventral location of these PSOs is a characteristic feature and was also found in another ant, Atta sexdens. PMID:24718032

  14. Enrichment and Broad Representation of Plant Biomass-Degrading Enzymes in the Specialized Hyphal Swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the Fungal Symbiont of Leaf-Cutter Ants

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel; McDonald, Bradon R.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J.; Orton, Daniel J.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Smith, Richard D.; Lipton, Mary S.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2015-08-28

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous Neotropical herbivores that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain lignocellulases that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as it is foraged by the ants. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous lignocellulases likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three-quarters of all lignocellulases identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 23 lignocellulases enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.

  15. Ant- and Ant-Colony-Inspired ALife Visual Art.

    PubMed

    Greenfield, Gary; Machado, Penousal

    2015-01-01

    Ant- and ant-colony-inspired ALife art is characterized by the artistic exploration of the emerging collective behavior of computational agents, developed using ants as a metaphor. We present a chronology that documents the emergence and history of such visual art, contextualize ant- and ant-colony-inspired art within generative art practices, and consider how it relates to other ALife art. We survey many of the algorithms that artists have used in this genre, address some of their aims, and explore the relationships between ant- and ant-colony-inspired art and research on ant and ant colony behavior.

  16. Ant- and Ant-Colony-Inspired ALife Visual Art.

    PubMed

    Greenfield, Gary; Machado, Penousal

    2015-01-01

    Ant- and ant-colony-inspired ALife art is characterized by the artistic exploration of the emerging collective behavior of computational agents, developed using ants as a metaphor. We present a chronology that documents the emergence and history of such visual art, contextualize ant- and ant-colony-inspired art within generative art practices, and consider how it relates to other ALife art. We survey many of the algorithms that artists have used in this genre, address some of their aims, and explore the relationships between ant- and ant-colony-inspired art and research on ant and ant colony behavior. PMID:26280070

  17. Acoustic communication by ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hickling, Robert

    2002-05-01

    Many ant species communicate acoustically by stridulating, i.e., running a scraper over a washboard-like set of ridges. Ants appear to be insensitive to airborne sound. Consequently, myrmecologists have concluded that the stridulatory signals are transmitted through the substrate. This has tended to diminish the importance of acoustic communication, and it is currently believed that ant communication is based almost exclusively on pheromones, with acoustic communication assigned an almost nonexistent role. However, it can be shown that acoustic communication between ants is effective only if the medium is air and not the substrate. How, then, is it possible for ants to appear deaf to airborne sound and yet communicate through the air? An explanation is provided in a paper [R. Hickling and R. L. Brown, ``Analysis of acoustic communication by ants,'' J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 108, 1920-1929 (2000)]. Ants are small relative to the wavelengths they generate. Hence, they create a near field, which is characterized by a major increase in sound velocity (particle velocity of sound) in the vicinity of the source. Hair sensilla on the ants' antennae respond to sound velocity. Thus, ants are able to detect near-field sound from other ants and to exclude extraneous airborne sound.

  18. An atom trap trace analysis (ATTA) system for measuring ultra-low contamination by krypton in xenon dark matter detectors

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yoon, Tae Hyun

    The XENON dark matter experiment aims to detect hypothetical weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) scattering off nuclei within its liquid xenon (LXe) target. The trace 85Kr in the xenon target undergoes beta-decay with a 687 keV end point and 10.8 year halflife, which contributes background events and limits the sensitivity of the experiment. In order to achieve the desired sensitivity, the contamination by krypton is reduced to the part per trillion (ppt) level by cryogenic distillation. The conventional methods are not well suited for measuring the krypton contamination at such a low level. In this work, we have developed an atom trap trace analysis (ATTA) device to detect the ultra-low krypton concentration in the xenon target. This project was proposed to the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) development [Aprile and Zelevinsky, 2009] and is funded by NSF and Columbia University. The ATTA method, originally developed at Argonne National Laboratory, uses standard laser cooling and trapping techniques, and counts single trapped atoms. Since the isotopic abundance of 85Kr in nature is 1.5 x 10-11, the 85Kr/Xe level is expected to be ˜10-23, which is beyond the capability of our method. Thus we detect the most abundant (57%) isotope 84Kr, and infer the 85Kr contamination from their known abundances. To avoid contamination by krypton, the setup is tested and optimized with 40 Ar which has a similar cooling wavelength to 84Kr. Two main challenges in this experiment are to obtain a trapping efficiency high enough to detect krypton impurities at the ppt level, and to achieve the resolution to discriminate single atoms. The device is specially designed and adjusted to meet these challenges. After achieving these criteria with argon gas, we precisely characterize the efficiency of the system using Kr-Xe mixtures with known ratios, and find that ˜90 minutes are required to trap one 84Kr atom at the 1-ppt Kr

  19. The first mesozoic ants.

    PubMed

    Wilson, E O; Carpenter, F M; Brown, W L

    1967-09-01

    Two worker ants preserved in amber of Upper Cretaceous age have been found in New Jersey. They are the first undisputed remains of social insects of Mesozoic age, extending the existence of social life in insects back to approximately 100 million years. They are also the earliest known fossils that can be assigned with certainty to aculeate Hymenoptera. The species, Sphecomyrma freyi, is considered to represent a new subfamily (Sphecomyrminae), more primitive than any previously known ant group. It forms a near-perfect link between certain nonsocial tiphiid wasps and the most primitive myrmecioid ants.

  20. Field techniques for sampling ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Ants occur in most environments and ecologists ask a diverse array of questions involving ants. Thus, a key consideration in ant studies is to match the environment and question (and associated environmental variables) to the ant sampling technique. Since each technique has distinct limitations, usi...

  1. Sick ants become unsociable.

    PubMed

    Bos, N; Lefèvre, T; Jensen, A B; d'Ettorre, P

    2012-02-01

    Parasites represent a severe threat to social insects, which form high-density colonies of related individuals, and selection should favour host traits that reduce infection risk. Here, using a carpenter ant (Camponotus aethiops) and a generalist insect pathogenic fungus (Metarhizium brunneum), we show that infected ants radically change their behaviour over time to reduce the risk of colony infection. Infected individuals (i) performed less social interactions than their uninfected counterparts, (ii) did not interact with brood anymore and (iii) spent most of their time outside the nest from day 3 post-infection until death. Furthermore, infected ants displayed an increased aggressiveness towards non-nestmates. Finally, infected ants did not alter their cuticular chemical profile, suggesting that infected individuals do not signal their physiological status to nestmates. Our results provide evidence for the evolution of unsociability following pathogen infection in a social animal and suggest an important role of inclusive fitness in driving such evolution.

  2. Sick ants become unsociable.

    PubMed

    Bos, N; Lefèvre, T; Jensen, A B; d'Ettorre, P

    2012-02-01

    Parasites represent a severe threat to social insects, which form high-density colonies of related individuals, and selection should favour host traits that reduce infection risk. Here, using a carpenter ant (Camponotus aethiops) and a generalist insect pathogenic fungus (Metarhizium brunneum), we show that infected ants radically change their behaviour over time to reduce the risk of colony infection. Infected individuals (i) performed less social interactions than their uninfected counterparts, (ii) did not interact with brood anymore and (iii) spent most of their time outside the nest from day 3 post-infection until death. Furthermore, infected ants displayed an increased aggressiveness towards non-nestmates. Finally, infected ants did not alter their cuticular chemical profile, suggesting that infected individuals do not signal their physiological status to nestmates. Our results provide evidence for the evolution of unsociability following pathogen infection in a social animal and suggest an important role of inclusive fitness in driving such evolution. PMID:22122288

  3. Fire Ant Bites

    MedlinePlus

    ... and the patient will develop difficulty breathing in addition to weakness. Patients who develop anaphylaxis and have a significant history of systemic reactions to fire ant stings should be checked for ...

  4. Ant traffic rules.

    PubMed

    Fourcassié, Vincent; Dussutour, Audrey; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2010-07-15

    Many animals take part in flow-like collective movements. In most species, however, the flow is unidirectional. Ants are one of the rare group of organisms in which flow-like movements are predominantly bidirectional. This adds to the difficulty of the task of maintaining a smooth, efficient movement. Yet, ants seem to fare well at this task. Do they really? And if so, how do such simple organisms succeed in maintaining a smooth traffic flow, when even humans experience trouble with this task? How does traffic in ants compare with that in human pedestrians or vehicles? The experimental study of ant traffic is only a few years old but it has already provided interesting insights into traffic organization and regulation in animals, showing in particular that an ant colony as a whole can be considered as a typical self-organized adaptive system. In this review we will show that the study of ant traffic can not only uncover basic principles of behavioral ecology and evolution in social insects but also provide new insights into the study of traffic systems in general. PMID:20581264

  5. Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers.

    PubMed

    Cembrowski, Adam R; Tan, Marcus G; Thomson, James D; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Ants on flowers can disrupt pollination by consuming rewards or harassing pollinators, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these exploitative and interference forms of competition on pollinator behavior. Using highly rewarding and quickly replenishing artificial flowers that simulate male or female function, we allowed bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to forage (1) on flowers with or without ants (Myrmica rubra) and (2) on flowers with or without ant scent cues. Bumblebees transferred significantly more pollen analogue both to and from ant-free flowers, demonstrating that interference competition with ants is sufficient to modify pollinator foraging behavior. Bees also removed significantly less pollen analogue from ant-scented flowers than from controls, making this the first study to show that bees can use ant scent to avoid harassment at flowers. Ant effects on pollinator behavior, possibly in addition to their effects on pollen viability, may contribute to the evolution of floral traits minimizing ant visitation.

  6. Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers.

    PubMed

    Cembrowski, Adam R; Tan, Marcus G; Thomson, James D; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Ants on flowers can disrupt pollination by consuming rewards or harassing pollinators, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these exploitative and interference forms of competition on pollinator behavior. Using highly rewarding and quickly replenishing artificial flowers that simulate male or female function, we allowed bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to forage (1) on flowers with or without ants (Myrmica rubra) and (2) on flowers with or without ant scent cues. Bumblebees transferred significantly more pollen analogue both to and from ant-free flowers, demonstrating that interference competition with ants is sufficient to modify pollinator foraging behavior. Bees also removed significantly less pollen analogue from ant-scented flowers than from controls, making this the first study to show that bees can use ant scent to avoid harassment at flowers. Ant effects on pollinator behavior, possibly in addition to their effects on pollen viability, may contribute to the evolution of floral traits minimizing ant visitation. PMID:24334742

  7. Alate susceptibility in ants

    PubMed Central

    Ho, Eddie K H; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Pathogens are predicted to pose a particular threat to eusocial insects because infections can spread rapidly in colonies with high densities of closely related individuals. In ants, there are two major castes: workers and reproductives. Sterile workers receive no direct benefit from investing in immunity, but can gain indirect fitness benefits if their immunity aids the survival of their fertile siblings. Virgin reproductives (alates), on the other hand, may be able to increase their investment in reproduction, rather than in immunity, because of the protection they receive from workers. Thus, we expect colonies to have highly immune workers, but relatively more susceptible alates. We examined the survival of workers, gynes, and males of nine ant species collected in Peru and Canada when exposed to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. For the seven species in which treatment with B. bassiana increased ant mortality relative to controls, we found workers were significantly less susceptible compared with both alate sexes. Female and male alates did not differ significantly in their immunocompetence. Our results suggest that, as with other nonreproductive tasks in ant colonies like foraging and nest maintenance, workers have primary responsibility for colony immunity, allowing alates to specialize on reproduction. We highlight the importance of colony-level selection on individual immunity in ants and other eusocial organisms. PMID:25540683

  8. Alate susceptibility in ants.

    PubMed

    Ho, Eddie K H; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-11-01

    Pathogens are predicted to pose a particular threat to eusocial insects because infections can spread rapidly in colonies with high densities of closely related individuals. In ants, there are two major castes: workers and reproductives. Sterile workers receive no direct benefit from investing in immunity, but can gain indirect fitness benefits if their immunity aids the survival of their fertile siblings. Virgin reproductives (alates), on the other hand, may be able to increase their investment in reproduction, rather than in immunity, because of the protection they receive from workers. Thus, we expect colonies to have highly immune workers, but relatively more susceptible alates. We examined the survival of workers, gynes, and males of nine ant species collected in Peru and Canada when exposed to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. For the seven species in which treatment with B. bassiana increased ant mortality relative to controls, we found workers were significantly less susceptible compared with both alate sexes. Female and male alates did not differ significantly in their immunocompetence. Our results suggest that, as with other nonreproductive tasks in ant colonies like foraging and nest maintenance, workers have primary responsibility for colony immunity, allowing alates to specialize on reproduction. We highlight the importance of colony-level selection on individual immunity in ants and other eusocial organisms. PMID:25540683

  9. Utilization of Anting-Anting (Acalypha indica) Leaves as Antibacterial

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Batubara, Irmanida; Wahyuni, Wulan Tri; Firdaus, Imam

    2016-01-01

    Anting-anting (Acalypha indica) plants is a species of plant having catkin type of inflorescence. This research aims to utilize anting-anting as antibacterial toward Streptococcus mutans and degradation of biofilm on teeth. Anting-anting leaves were extracted by maceration technique using methanol, chloroform, and n-hexane. Antibacterial and biofilm degradation assays were performed using microdilution technique with 96 well. n-Hexane extracts of anting-anting leaves gave the best antibacterial potency with minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration value of 500 μg/mL and exhibited good biofilm degradation activity. Fraction of F3 obtained from fractionation of n-hexane's extract with column chromatography was a potential for degradation of biofilm with IC50 value of 56.82 μg/mL. Alkaloid was suggested as antibacterial and degradation of biofilm in the active fraction.

  10. Ant-based computing.

    PubMed

    Michael, Loizos

    2009-01-01

    A biologically and physically plausible model for ants and pheromones is proposed. It is argued that the mechanisms described in this model are sufficiently powerful to reproduce the necessary components of universal computation. The claim is supported by illustrating the feasibility of designing arbitrary logic circuits, showing that the interactions of ants and pheromones lead to the expected behavior, and presenting computer simulation results to verify the circuits' working. The conclusions of this study can be taken as evidence that coherent deterministic and centralized computation can emerge from the collective behavior of simple distributed Markovian processes such as those followed by biological ants, but also, more generally, by artificial agents with limited computational and communication abilities. PMID:19239348

  11. The Ants Go Marching Millions by Millions: Invasive Ant Research

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Invasive ants are a worldwide problem that is expanding both geographically and in intensity. Population explosions of invasive ants can overrun landscapes and inundate structures. Pest management professionals are often the first responders to complaints about invading ants. This session will fo...

  12. The ants go marching millions by millions: invasive ant research

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Invasive ants are a worldwide problem that is expanding both geographically and in intensity. Population explosions of invasive ants can overrun landscapes and inundate structures. Pest management professionals are often the first responders to complaints about invading ants. This session will fo...

  13. Routing Vehicles with Ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tan, Wen Fang; Lee, Lai Soon; Majid, Zanariah Abdul; Seow, Hsin Vonn

    Routing vehicles involve the design of an optimal set of routes for a fleet of vehicles to serve a number of customers with known demands. This research develops an Ant Colony Optimization for the vehicle routing with one central depot and identical vehicles. The procedure simulates the behavior of real ants that always find the shortest path between their nest and a food source through a form of communication, pheromone trail. Finally, preliminary results on the learning of the algorithm testing on benchmark data set will be presented in this paper.

  14. Army ants: an evolutionary bestseller?

    PubMed

    Berghoff, Stefanie M

    2003-09-01

    Army ants are characterized by a complex combination of behavioral and morphological traits. Molecular data now indicate that army ant behavior has a unique evolutionary origin and has been conserved for over more than 100 million years.

  15. Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens Are Biphasic Mixed Microbial Bioreactors That Convert Plant Biomass to Polyols with Biotechnological Applications

    PubMed Central

    Somera, Alexandre F.; Lima, Adriel M.; dos Santos-Neto, Álvaro J.; Lanças, Fernando M.

    2015-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants use plant matter to culture the obligate mutualistic basidiomycete Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. This fungus mediates ant nutrition on plant resources. Furthermore, other microbes living in the fungus garden might also contribute to plant digestion. The fungus garden comprises a young sector with recently incorporated leaf fragments and an old sector with partially digested plant matter. Here, we show that the young and old sectors of the grass-cutter Atta bisphaerica fungus garden operate as a biphasic solid-state mixed fermenting system. An initial plant digestion phase occurred in the young sector in the fungus garden periphery, with prevailing hemicellulose and starch degradation into arabinose, mannose, xylose, and glucose. These products support fast microbial growth but were mostly converted into four polyols. Three polyols, mannitol, arabitol, and inositol, were secreted by L. gongylophorus, and a fourth polyol, sorbitol, was likely secreted by another, unidentified, microbe. A second plant digestion phase occurred in the old sector, located in the fungus garden core, comprising stocks of microbial biomass growing slowly on monosaccharides and polyols. This biphasic operation was efficient in mediating symbiotic nutrition on plant matter: the microbes, accounting for 4% of the fungus garden biomass, converted plant matter biomass into monosaccharides and polyols, which were completely consumed by the resident ants and microbes. However, when consumption was inhibited through laboratory manipulation, most of the plant polysaccharides were degraded, products rapidly accumulated, and yields could be preferentially switched between polyols and monosaccharides. This feature might be useful in biotechnology. PMID:25911490

  16. Leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens are biphasic mixed microbial bioreactors that convert plant biomass to polyols with biotechnological applications.

    PubMed

    Somera, Alexandre F; Lima, Adriel M; Dos Santos-Neto, Álvaro J; Lanças, Fernando M; Bacci, Maurício

    2015-07-01

    Leaf-cutter ants use plant matter to culture the obligate mutualistic basidiomycete Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. This fungus mediates ant nutrition on plant resources. Furthermore, other microbes living in the fungus garden might also contribute to plant digestion. The fungus garden comprises a young sector with recently incorporated leaf fragments and an old sector with partially digested plant matter. Here, we show that the young and old sectors of the grass-cutter Atta bisphaerica fungus garden operate as a biphasic solid-state mixed fermenting system. An initial plant digestion phase occurred in the young sector in the fungus garden periphery, with prevailing hemicellulose and starch degradation into arabinose, mannose, xylose, and glucose. These products support fast microbial growth but were mostly converted into four polyols. Three polyols, mannitol, arabitol, and inositol, were secreted by L. gongylophorus, and a fourth polyol, sorbitol, was likely secreted by another, unidentified, microbe. A second plant digestion phase occurred in the old sector, located in the fungus garden core, comprising stocks of microbial biomass growing slowly on monosaccharides and polyols. This biphasic operation was efficient in mediating symbiotic nutrition on plant matter: the microbes, accounting for 4% of the fungus garden biomass, converted plant matter biomass into monosaccharides and polyols, which were completely consumed by the resident ants and microbes. However, when consumption was inhibited through laboratory manipulation, most of the plant polysaccharides were degraded, products rapidly accumulated, and yields could be preferentially switched between polyols and monosaccharides. This feature might be useful in biotechnology.

  17. Fire Ant Allergy

    MedlinePlus

    ... In extreme cases, a rapid fall in blood pressure may result in shock and loss of consciousness. Symptoms of anaphylaxis require emergency medical treatment. Given the severity of a potential reaction, an accurate diagnosis for fire ant allergy is key to being prepared for ...

  18. Tiny, Powerful, Awesome Ants!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Tate, Kathleen

    2007-01-01

    Peering through a thematic science lens--elementary students embarked on a one-week study of ants during a month-long summer school program. This integrated unit addressed reading and writing skills while developing the science-process skills of observation, inferring, and communicating in a motivating and authentic way. Pre- and post-assessments…

  19. Ant allergens and hypersensitivity reactions in response to ant stings.

    PubMed

    Potiwat, Rutcharin; Sitcharungsi, Raweerat

    2015-12-01

    Hypersensitivity reactions caused by ant stings are increasingly recognized as an important cause of death by anaphylaxis. Only some species of ants ( e.g. Solenopsis spp., Myrmecia spp., and Pachycondyla spp.) cause allergic reactions. Ant species are identified by evaluating the morphologic structures of worker ants or by molecular techniques. Ant venom contains substances, including acids and alkaloids, that cause toxic reactions, and those from Solenopsis invicta or the imported fire ant have been widely studied. Piperidine alkaloids and low protein contents can cause local reactions (sterile pustules) and systemic reactions (anaphylaxis). Imported fire ant venoms are cross-reactive; for example, the Sol i 1 allergen from S. invicta has cross-reactivity with yellow jacket phospholipase. The Sol i 3 allergen is a member of the antigen 5 family that has amino acid sequence identity with vespid antigen 5. The clinical presentations of ant hypersensitivity are categorized into immediate and delayed reactions: immediate reactions, such as small local reactions, large local reactions, and systemic reactions, occur within 1-4 hours after the ant stings, whereas delayed reactions, such as serum sickness and vasculitis, usually occur more than 4 hours after the stings. Tools for the diagnosis of ant hypersensitivity are skin testing, serum specific IgE, and sting challenge tests. Management of ant hypersensitivity can be divided into immediate (epinephrine, corticosteroids), symptomatic (antihistamines, bronchodilators), supportive (fluid resuscitation, oxygen therapy), and preventive (re-sting avoidance and immunotherapy) treatments.

  20. Ant allergens and hypersensitivity reactions in response to ant stings.

    PubMed

    Potiwat, Rutcharin; Sitcharungsi, Raweerat

    2015-12-01

    Hypersensitivity reactions caused by ant stings are increasingly recognized as an important cause of death by anaphylaxis. Only some species of ants ( e.g. Solenopsis spp., Myrmecia spp., and Pachycondyla spp.) cause allergic reactions. Ant species are identified by evaluating the morphologic structures of worker ants or by molecular techniques. Ant venom contains substances, including acids and alkaloids, that cause toxic reactions, and those from Solenopsis invicta or the imported fire ant have been widely studied. Piperidine alkaloids and low protein contents can cause local reactions (sterile pustules) and systemic reactions (anaphylaxis). Imported fire ant venoms are cross-reactive; for example, the Sol i 1 allergen from S. invicta has cross-reactivity with yellow jacket phospholipase. The Sol i 3 allergen is a member of the antigen 5 family that has amino acid sequence identity with vespid antigen 5. The clinical presentations of ant hypersensitivity are categorized into immediate and delayed reactions: immediate reactions, such as small local reactions, large local reactions, and systemic reactions, occur within 1-4 hours after the ant stings, whereas delayed reactions, such as serum sickness and vasculitis, usually occur more than 4 hours after the stings. Tools for the diagnosis of ant hypersensitivity are skin testing, serum specific IgE, and sting challenge tests. Management of ant hypersensitivity can be divided into immediate (epinephrine, corticosteroids), symptomatic (antihistamines, bronchodilators), supportive (fluid resuscitation, oxygen therapy), and preventive (re-sting avoidance and immunotherapy) treatments. PMID:26708389

  1. Enrichment and Broad Representation of Plant Biomass-Degrading Enzymes in the Specialized Hyphal Swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the Fungal Symbiont of Leaf-Cutter Ants.

    PubMed

    Aylward, Frank O; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M; McDonald, Bradon R; Nicora, Carrie D; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J; Orton, Daniel J; Monroe, Matthew E; Piehowski, Paul D; Purvine, Samuel O; Smith, Richard D; Lipton, Mary S; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E; Currie, Cameron R

    2015-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.

  2. Enrichment and broad representation of plant biomass-degrading enzymes in the specialized hyphal swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the fungal symbiont of leaf-cutter ants

    DOE PAGESBeta

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M.; McDonald, Bradon R.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J.; Orton, Daniel J.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Piehowski, Paul D.; et al

    2015-08-28

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plantmore » biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.« less

  3. Enrichment and Broad Representation of Plant Biomass-Degrading Enzymes in the Specialized Hyphal Swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the Fungal Symbiont of Leaf-Cutter Ants

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M.; McDonald, Bradon R.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J.; Orton, Daniel J.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Smith, Richard D.; Lipton, Mary S.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2015-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass. PMID:26317212

  4. Ants and the fossil record.

    PubMed

    LaPolla, John S; Dlussky, Gennady M; Perrichot, Vincent

    2013-01-01

    The dominance of ants in the terrestrial biosphere has few equals among animals today, but this was not always the case. The oldest ants appear in the fossil record 100 million years ago, but given the scarcity of their fossils, it is presumed they were relatively minor components of Mesozoic insect life. The ant fossil record consists of two primary types of fossils, each with inherent biases: as imprints in rock and as inclusions in fossilized resins (amber). New imaging technology allows ancient ant fossils to be examined in ways never before possible. This is particularly helpful because it can be difficult to distinguish true ants from non-ants in Mesozoic fossils. Fossil discoveries continue to inform our understanding of ancient ant morphological diversity, as well as provide insights into their paleobiology.

  5. Distributed nestmate recognition in ants

    PubMed Central

    Esponda, Fernando; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2015-01-01

    We propose a distributed model of nestmate recognition, analogous to the one used by the vertebrate immune system, in which colony response results from the diverse reactions of many ants. The model describes how individual behaviour produces colony response to non-nestmates. No single ant knows the odour identity of the colony. Instead, colony identity is defined collectively by all the ants in the colony. Each ant responds to the odour of other ants by reference to its own unique decision boundary, which is a result of its experience of encounters with other ants. Each ant thus recognizes a particular set of chemical profiles as being those of non-nestmates. This model predicts, as experimental results have shown, that the outcome of behavioural assays is likely to be variable, that it depends on the number of ants tested, that response to non-nestmates changes over time and that it changes in response to the experience of individual ants. A distributed system allows a colony to identify non-nestmates without requiring that all individuals have the same complete information and helps to facilitate the tracking of changes in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, because only a subset of ants must respond to provide an adequate response. PMID:25833853

  6. Distributed nestmate recognition in ants.

    PubMed

    Esponda, Fernando; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-05-01

    We propose a distributed model of nestmate recognition, analogous to the one used by the vertebrate immune system, in which colony response results from the diverse reactions of many ants. The model describes how individual behaviour produces colony response to non-nestmates. No single ant knows the odour identity of the colony. Instead, colony identity is defined collectively by all the ants in the colony. Each ant responds to the odour of other ants by reference to its own unique decision boundary, which is a result of its experience of encounters with other ants. Each ant thus recognizes a particular set of chemical profiles as being those of non-nestmates. This model predicts, as experimental results have shown, that the outcome of behavioural assays is likely to be variable, that it depends on the number of ants tested, that response to non-nestmates changes over time and that it changes in response to the experience of individual ants. A distributed system allows a colony to identify non-nestmates without requiring that all individuals have the same complete information and helps to facilitate the tracking of changes in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, because only a subset of ants must respond to provide an adequate response.

  7. Why are there few seedlings beneath the myrmecophyte Triplaris americana?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Larrea-Alcázar, Daniel M.; Simonetti, Javier A.

    2007-07-01

    We compared the relative importance of chemical alellopathy, pruning behaviour of resident ants and other non-related agents to ant-plant mutualism for seedling establishment beneath Triplaris americana L. (Polygonaceae), a myrmecophyte plant. We also included a preliminary analysis of effects of fragmentation on these ecological processes. Seeds and seedlings of Theobroma cacao L. (Sterculiaceae) were used as the target species in all experiments. Leaf-tissue extracts of the myrmecophyte plant did not inhibit germination of cacao seeds. Resident Pseudomyrmex triplarinus Weddell (Pseudomyrmecinae) ants did not remove seeds under the canopy of their host plants. The main seed consumer was the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens L. (Myrmicinae). Leaves of cacao seedlings were partially or totally pruned by Pseudomyrmex ants mainly in forest fragments studied. We offer evidence pointing to the possibility that the absence of seedlings beneath Triplaris may result from effects of both ant species. We discuss the benefits of pruning behaviour for the resident ant colony and the effects of ant-ant interactions on seedling establishment beneath this ant-plant system.

  8. Mechanics of fire ant aggregations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tennenbaum, Michael; Liu, Zhongyang; Hu, David; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto

    2016-01-01

    Fire ants link their bodies to form aggregations; these can adopt a variety of structures, they can drip and spread, or withstand applied loads. Here, by using oscillatory rheology, we show that fire ant aggregations are viscoelastic. We find that, at the lowest ant densities probed and in the linear regime, the elastic and viscous moduli are essentially identical over the spanned frequency range, which highlights the absence of a dominant mode of structural relaxation. As ant density increases, the elastic modulus rises, which we interpret by alluding to ant crowding and subsequent jamming. When deformed beyond the linear regime, the aggregation flows, exhibiting shear-thinning behaviour with a stress load that is comparable to the maximum load the aggregation can withstand before individual ants are torn apart. Our findings illustrate the rich, collective mechanical behaviour that can arise in aggregations of active, interacting building blocks.

  9. Mechanics of fire ant aggregations.

    PubMed

    Tennenbaum, Michael; Liu, Zhongyang; Hu, David; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto

    2016-01-01

    Fire ants link their bodies to form aggregations; these can adopt a variety of structures, they can drip and spread, or withstand applied loads. Here, by using oscillatory rheology, we show that fire ant aggregations are viscoelastic. We find that, at the lowest ant densities probed and in the linear regime, the elastic and viscous moduli are essentially identical over the spanned frequency range, which highlights the absence of a dominant mode of structural relaxation. As ant density increases, the elastic modulus rises, which we interpret by alluding to ant crowding and subsequent jamming. When deformed beyond the linear regime, the aggregation flows, exhibiting shear-thinning behaviour with a stress load that is comparable to the maximum load the aggregation can withstand before individual ants are torn apart. Our findings illustrate the rich, collective mechanical behaviour that can arise in aggregations of active, interacting building blocks. PMID:26501413

  10. Parasitoid secretions provoke ant warfare.

    PubMed

    Thomas, J A; Knapp, J J; Akino, T; Gerty, S; Wakamura, S; Simcox, D J; Wardlaw, J C; Elmes, G W

    2002-05-30

    Insect social parasites are extreme specialists that typically use mimicry or stealth to enter ant colonies to exploit the rich, but fiercely protected, resources within their nests. Here we show how a parasitic wasp (parasitoid) contrives to reach its host, itself an endangered species of social parasite that lives inside the brood chambers of ant nests, by releasing semiochemicals to induce in-fighting between worker ants, locking the colony in combat and leaving it underprotected. Four of these chemicals are new to biology and have the potential to control pest species by inducing different agonistic behaviours in ants. PMID:12037556

  11. Fire ant microsporidia acquired by parasitoid flies of fire ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The microsporidium Kneallhazia (formerly Thelohania) solenopsae and parasitoid flies in the genus Pseudacteon are natural enemies of the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Pseudacteon flies oviposit into adult fire ants, where maggots that eclose from eggs migrate to the ants’ head, pupate, and...

  12. Communal nutrition in ants.

    PubMed

    Dussutour, Audrey; Simpson, Stephen J

    2009-05-12

    Studies on nonsocial insects have elucidated the regulatory strategies employed to meet nutritional demands [1-3]. However, how social insects maintain the supply of an appropriate balance of nutrients at both a collective and an individual level remains unknown. Sociality complicates nutritional regulatory strategies [4-6]. First, the food entering a colony is collected by a small number of workers, which need to adjust their harvesting strategy to the demands for nutrients among individuals within the colony [4-7]. Second, because carbohydrates are used by the workers and proteins consumed by the larvae [7-14], nutritional feedbacks emanating from both must exist and be integrated to determine food exploitation by foragers [4-6, 15, 16]. Here, we show that foraging ants can solve nutritional challenges for the colony by making intricate adjustments to their feeding behavior and nutrient processing, acting both as a collective mouth and gut. The amount and balance of nutrients collected and the precision of regulation depend on the presence of larvae in the colony. Ants improved the macronutrient balance of collected foods by extracting carbohydrates and ejecting proteins. Nevertheless, processing excess protein shortened life span--an effect that was greatly ameliorated in the presence of larvae.

  13. Autonomy in ants and humans.

    PubMed

    Carpendale, Jeremy I M; Frayn, Michael

    2016-01-01

    Drawing lessons regarding the consequences of ultrasociality in ants and humans depends crucially on recognizing differences as well as similarities in the way that species are social. We focus on Gowdy & Krall's use of the concept of autonomy to explicate essential differences in the ways in which ants and humans are social. PMID:27562193

  14. Temperature: Human Regulating, Ants Conforming

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clopton, Joe R.

    2007-01-01

    Biological processes speed up as temperature rises. Procedures for demonstrating this with ants traveling on trails, and data gathered by students on the Argentine ant ("Linepithema humile") are presented. The concepts of temperature regulation and conformity are detailed with a focus on the processes rather than on terms that label the organisms.

  15. Dominance Hierarchies in Leptothorax Ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cole, Blaine J.

    1981-04-01

    The social organization of Leptothorax allardycei is unique among ant species thus far studied. The workers form linear dominance hierarchies characterized by routine displays of dominance, avoidance behavior, and even fighting. The high-ranking ants are favored in liquid food exchange, have greater ovarian development, and produce 20 percent of the eggs.

  16. Ant navigation: reading geometrical signposts.

    PubMed

    Collett, Thomas S; Waxman, David

    2005-03-01

    Ants often travel along complex pheromone trail systems between their nest and foraging areas. A new and surprising discovery is that Pharaoh's ants can work out from the geometry of individual branch points on the trail whether they are heading towards or away from the nest. PMID:15753029

  17. Slowing them down will make them lose: a role for attine ant crop fungus in defending pupae against infections?

    PubMed

    Armitage, Sophie A O; Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Wcislo, William T

    2016-09-01

    Fungus-growing ants (Attini) have evolved an obligate dependency upon a basidiomycete fungus that they cultivate as their food. Less well known is that the crop fungus is also used by many attine species to cover their eggs, larvae and pupae. The adaptive functional significance of this brood covering is poorly understood. One hypothesis to account for this behaviour is that it is part of the pathogen protection portfolio when many thousands of sister workers live in close proximity and larvae and pupae are not protected by cells, as in bees and wasps, and are immobile. We performed behavioural observations on brood covering in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior, and we experimentally manipulated mycelial cover on pupae and exposed them to the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum to test for a role in pathogen resistance. Our results show that active mycelial brood covering by workers is a behaviourally plastic trait that varies temporally, and across life stages and castes. The presence of a fungal cover on the pupae reduced the rate at which conidia appeared and the percentage of pupal surface that produced pathogen spores, compared to pupae that had fungal cover experimentally removed or naturally had no mycelial cover. Infected pupae with mycelium had higher survival rates than infected pupae without the cover, although this depended upon the time at which adult sister workers were allowed to interact with pupae. Finally, workers employed higher rates of metapleural gland grooming to infected pupae without mycelium than to infected pupae with mycelium. Our results imply that mycelial brood covering may play a significant role in suppressing the growth and subsequent spread of disease, thus adding a novel layer of protection to their defence portfolio. PMID:27136600

  18. AntR-mediated bidirectional activation of antA and antR, anthranilate degradative genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

    PubMed

    Kim, Soo-Kyoung; Im, Su-Jin; Yeom, Doo-Hwan; Lee, Joon-Hee

    2012-08-15

    Bidirectional activation of transcription is a peculiar regulation mode of gene expression. In this study, we show that genes involved in the metabolism of anthranilate, a precursor of biosynthesis of tryptophan and Pseudomonas quinolone signal (PQS) are regulated by this bidirectional activation of transcription. Anthranilate is degraded by anthranilate dioxygenase complex encoded by antABC operon, and AntR, a LysR-type regulator encoded by antR activates the transcription of antABC operon in the presence of anthranilate. In P. aeruginosa, antABC and antR are divergently located and AntR binds to the intergenic region between antA and antR to activate the antABC transcription. In this study, we determined the transcriptional start site of the antA promoter (antA(p)) and AntR-responsive elements (AREs) in P. aeruginosa. The upstream deletion analysis of antA(p) and in vitro gel shift assay with purified AntR showed that there are two AREs at -194 to -148 and -88 to -47 regions. We also found that AntR activates antR promoter (antR(p)) in the opposite direction and both AREs are important in the bidirectional activation of antA(p) and antR(p). Two AREs have different binding affinities to AntR and the strength of transcriptional activation was dramatically asymmetric depending on the direction. We suggest that the different affinities of two AREs may explain the asymmetry of the bidirectional activation by AntR. PMID:22609066

  19. FORMIDABEL: The Belgian Ants Database

    PubMed Central

    Brosens, Dimitri; Vankerkhoven, François; Ignace, David; Wegnez, Philippe; Noé, Nicolas; Heughebaert, André; Bortels, Jeannine; Dekoninck, Wouter

    2013-01-01

    Abstract FORMIDABEL is a database of Belgian Ants containing more than 27.000 occurrence records. These records originate from collections, field sampling and literature. The database gives information on 76 native and 9 introduced ant species found in Belgium. The collection records originated mainly from the ants collection in Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the ‘Gaspar’ Ants collection in Gembloux and the zoological collection of the University of Liège (ULG). The oldest occurrences date back from May 1866, the most recent refer to August 2012. FORMIDABEL is a work in progress and the database is updated twice a year. The latest version of the dataset is publicly and freely accessible through this url: http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource.do?r=formidabel. The dataset is also retrievable via the GBIF data portal through this link: http://data.gbif.org/datasets/resource/14697 A dedicated geo-portal, developed by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform is accessible at: http://www.formicidae-atlas.be Purpose: FORMIDABEL is a joint cooperation of the Flemish ants working group “Polyergus” (http://formicidae.be) and the Wallonian ants working group “FourmisWalBru” (http://fourmiswalbru.be). The original database was created in 2002 in the context of the preliminary red data book of Flemish Ants (Dekoninck et al. 2003). Later, in 2005, data from the Southern part of Belgium; Wallonia and Brussels were added. In 2012 this dataset was again updated for the creation of the first Belgian Ants Atlas (Figure 1) (Dekoninck et al. 2012). The main purpose of this atlas was to generate maps for all outdoor-living ant species in Belgium using an overlay of the standard Belgian ecoregions. By using this overlay for most species, we can discern a clear and often restricted distribution pattern in Belgium, mainly based on vegetation and soil types. PMID:23794918

  20. Enrichment and broad representation of plant biomass-degrading enzymes in the specialized hyphal swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the fungal symbiont of leaf-cutter ants

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M.; McDonald, Bradon R.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J.; Orton, Daniel J.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Smith, Richard D.; Lipton, Mary S.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Currie, Cameron R.; Brady, Sean

    2015-08-28

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.

  1. Dynamics of fire ant aggregations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tennenbaum, Michael; Hu, David; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto

    Fire ant aggregations are an inherently active system. Each ant harvests its own energy and can convert it into motion. The motion of individual ants contributes non-trivially to the bulk material properties of the aggregation. We have measured some of these properties using plate-plate rheology, where the response to an applied external force or deformation is measured. In this talk, we will present data pertaining to the aggregation behavior in the absence of any external force. We quantify the aggregation dynamics by monitoring the rotation of the top plate and by measuring the normal force. We then compare the results with visualizations of 2D aggregations.

  2. Do ants make direct comparisons?

    PubMed

    Robinson, Elva J H; Smith, Faith D; Sullivan, Kathryn M E; Franks, Nigel R

    2009-07-22

    Many individual decisions are informed by direct comparison of the alternatives. In collective decisions, however, only certain group members may have the opportunity to compare options. Emigrating ant colonies (Temnothorax albipennis) show sophisticated nest-site choice, selecting superior sites even when they are nine times further away than the alternative. How do they do this? We used radio-frequency identification-tagged ants to monitor individual behaviour. Here we show for the first time that switching between nests during the decision process can influence nest choice without requiring direct comparison of nests. Ants finding the poor nest were likely to switch and find the good nest, whereas ants finding the good nest were more likely to stay committed to that nest. When ants switched quickly between the two nests, colonies chose the good nest. Switching by ants that had the opportunity to compare nests had little effect on nest choice. We suggest a new mechanism of collective nest choice: individuals respond to nest quality by the decision either to commit or to seek alternatives. Previously proposed mechanisms, recruitment latency and nest comparison, can be explained as side effects of this simple rule. Colony-level comparison and choice can emerge, without direct comparison by individuals.

  3. Trap-mulching Argentine ants.

    PubMed

    Silverman, Jules; Sorenson, Clyde E; Waldvogel, Michael G

    2006-10-01

    Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), management is constrained, in large part, by polydomy where nestmates are distributed extensively across urban landscapes, particularly within mulch. Management with trap-mulching is a novel approach derived from trap-cropping where ants are repelled from a broad domain of nest sites to smaller defined areas, which are subsequently treated with insecticide. This concept was field-tested with mulch surrounding ornamental trees replaced with a narrow band of pine (Pinus spp.) needle mulch (trap) within a much larger patch of repellent aromatic cedar (Juniperus spp.) mulch. After ants reestablished around the trees, the pine needle mulch band was treated with 0.06% fipronil (Termidor). Poor results were obtained when the trap extended from the tree trunk to the edge of the mulched area. When the trap was applied as a circular band around the tree trunk reductions in the number of foraging ants were recorded through 14 d compared with an untreated mulch control, but not for longer periods. Reductions in the number of ant nests within mulch were no different between the trap mulch and any of the other treatments. We conclude that trap-mulching offers limited benefits, and that successful management of Argentine ants will require implementation of complementary or perhaps alternative strategies.

  4. Do ants make direct comparisons?

    PubMed Central

    Robinson, Elva J.H.; Smith, Faith D.; Sullivan, Kathryn M.E.; Franks, Nigel R.

    2009-01-01

    Many individual decisions are informed by direct comparison of the alternatives. In collective decisions, however, only certain group members may have the opportunity to compare options. Emigrating ant colonies (Temnothorax albipennis) show sophisticated nest-site choice, selecting superior sites even when they are nine times further away than the alternative. How do they do this? We used radio-frequency identification-tagged ants to monitor individual behaviour. Here we show for the first time that switching between nests during the decision process can influence nest choice without requiring direct comparison of nests. Ants finding the poor nest were likely to switch and find the good nest, whereas ants finding the good nest were more likely to stay committed to that nest. When ants switched quickly between the two nests, colonies chose the good nest. Switching by ants that had the opportunity to compare nests had little effect on nest choice. We suggest a new mechanism of collective nest choice: individuals respond to nest quality by the decision either to commit or to seek alternatives. Previously proposed mechanisms, recruitment latency and nest comparison, can be explained as side effects of this simple rule. Colony-level comparison and choice can emerge, without direct comparison by individuals. PMID:19386652

  5. Macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses: Pseudomyrmex ants and their ant-housing plants in the Neotropics.

    PubMed

    Chomicki, Guillaume; Ward, Philip S; Renner, Susanne S

    2015-11-22

    Symbioses include some of the clearest cases of coevolution, but their origin, loss or reassembly with different partners can rarely be inferred. Here we use ant/plant symbioses involving three plant clades to investigate the evolution of symbioses. We generated phylogenies for the big-eyed arboreal ants (Pseudomyrmecinae), including 72% of their 286 species, as well as for five of their plant host groups, in each case sampling more than 61% of the species. We show that the ant-housing Vachellia (Mimosoideae) clade and its ants co-diversified for the past 5 Ma, with some species additionally colonized by younger plant-nesting ant species, some parasitic. An apparent co-radiation of ants and Tachigali (Caesalpinioideae) was followed by waves of colonization by the same ant clade, and subsequent occupation by a younger ant group. Wide crown and stem age differences between the ant-housing genus Triplaris (Polygonaceae) and its obligate ant inhabitants, and stochastic trait mapping, indicate that its domatium evolved earlier than the ants now occupying it, suggesting previous symbioses that dissolved. Parasitic ant species evolved from generalists, not from mutualists, and are younger than the mutualistic systems they parasitize. Our study illuminates the macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses, which has been highly dynamic, even in very specialized systems. PMID:26582029

  6. Macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses: Pseudomyrmex ants and their ant-housing plants in the Neotropics.

    PubMed

    Chomicki, Guillaume; Ward, Philip S; Renner, Susanne S

    2015-11-22

    Symbioses include some of the clearest cases of coevolution, but their origin, loss or reassembly with different partners can rarely be inferred. Here we use ant/plant symbioses involving three plant clades to investigate the evolution of symbioses. We generated phylogenies for the big-eyed arboreal ants (Pseudomyrmecinae), including 72% of their 286 species, as well as for five of their plant host groups, in each case sampling more than 61% of the species. We show that the ant-housing Vachellia (Mimosoideae) clade and its ants co-diversified for the past 5 Ma, with some species additionally colonized by younger plant-nesting ant species, some parasitic. An apparent co-radiation of ants and Tachigali (Caesalpinioideae) was followed by waves of colonization by the same ant clade, and subsequent occupation by a younger ant group. Wide crown and stem age differences between the ant-housing genus Triplaris (Polygonaceae) and its obligate ant inhabitants, and stochastic trait mapping, indicate that its domatium evolved earlier than the ants now occupying it, suggesting previous symbioses that dissolved. Parasitic ant species evolved from generalists, not from mutualists, and are younger than the mutualistic systems they parasitize. Our study illuminates the macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses, which has been highly dynamic, even in very specialized systems.

  7. How ants drop out: ant abundance on tropical mountains.

    PubMed

    Longino, John T; Branstetter, Michael G; Colwell, Robert K

    2014-01-01

    In tropical wet forests, ants are a large proportion of the animal biomass, but the factors determining abundance are not well understood. We characterized ant abundance in the litter layer of 41 mature wet forest sites spread throughout Central America (Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) and examined the impact of elevation (as a proxy for temperature) and community species richness. Sites were intentionally chosen to minimize variation in precipitation and seasonality. From sea level to 1500 m ant abundance very gradually declined, community richness declined more rapidly than abundance, and the local frequency of the locally most common species increased. These results suggest that within this elevational zone, density compensation is acting, maintaining high ant abundance as richness declines. In contrast, in sites above 1500 m, ant abundance dropped abruptly to much lower levels. Among these high montane sites, community richness explained much more of the variation in abundance than elevation, and there was no evidence of density compensation. The relative stability of abundance below 1500 m may be caused by opposing effects of temperature on productivity and metabolism. Lower temperatures may decrease productivity and thus the amount of food available for consumers, but slower metabolisms of consumers may allow maintenance of higher biomass at lower resource supply rates. Ant communities at these lower elevations may be highly interactive, the result of continuous habitat presence over geological time. High montane sites may be ephemeral in geological time, resulting in non-interactive communities dominated by historical and stochastic processes. Abundance in these sites may be determined by the number of species that manage to colonize and/or avoid extinction on mountaintops. PMID:25098722

  8. How Ants Drop Out: Ant Abundance on Tropical Mountains

    PubMed Central

    Longino, John T.; Branstetter, Michael G.; Colwell, Robert K.

    2014-01-01

    In tropical wet forests, ants are a large proportion of the animal biomass, but the factors determining abundance are not well understood. We characterized ant abundance in the litter layer of 41 mature wet forest sites spread throughout Central America (Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) and examined the impact of elevation (as a proxy for temperature) and community species richness. Sites were intentionally chosen to minimize variation in precipitation and seasonality. From sea level to 1500 m ant abundance very gradually declined, community richness declined more rapidly than abundance, and the local frequency of the locally most common species increased. These results suggest that within this elevational zone, density compensation is acting, maintaining high ant abundance as richness declines. In contrast, in sites above 1500 m, ant abundance dropped abruptly to much lower levels. Among these high montane sites, community richness explained much more of the variation in abundance than elevation, and there was no evidence of density compensation. The relative stability of abundance below 1500 m may be caused by opposing effects of temperature on productivity and metabolism. Lower temperatures may decrease productivity and thus the amount of food available for consumers, but slower metabolisms of consumers may allow maintenance of higher biomass at lower resource supply rates. Ant communities at these lower elevations may be highly interactive, the result of continuous habitat presence over geological time. High montane sites may be ephemeral in geological time, resulting in non-interactive communities dominated by historical and stochastic processes. Abundance in these sites may be determined by the number of species that manage to colonize and/or avoid extinction on mountaintops. PMID:25098722

  9. Do aphids actively search for ant partners?

    PubMed

    Fischer, Christophe Y; Vanderplanck, Maryse; Lognay, Georges C; Detrain, Claire; Verheggen, François J

    2015-04-01

    The aphid-ant mutualistic relationships are not necessarily obligate for neither partners but evidence is that such interactions provide them strong advantages in terms of global fitness. While it is largely assumed that ants actively search for their mutualistic partners namely using volatile cues; whether winged aphids (i.e., aphids' most mobile form) are able to select ant-frequented areas had not been investigated so far. Ant-frequented sites would indeed offer several advantages for these aphids including a lower predation pressure through ant presence and enhanced chances of establishing mutuaslistic interactions with neighbor ant colonies. In the field, aphid colonies are often observed in higher densities around ant nests, which is probably linked to a better survival ensured by ants' services. Nevertheless, this could also result from a preferential establishment of winged aphids in ant-frequented areas. We tested this last hypothesis through different ethological assays and show that the facultative myrmecophilous black bean aphid, Aphis fabae L., does not orientate its search for a host plant preferentially toward ant-frequented plants. However, our results suggest that ants reduce the number of winged aphids leaving the newly colonized plant. Thus, ants involved in facultative myrmecophilous interactions with aphids appear to contribute to structure aphid populations in the field by ensuring a better establishment and survival of newly established colonies rather than by inducing a deliberate plant selection by aphid partners based on the proximity of ant colonies.

  10. Ants medicate to fight disease.

    PubMed

    Bos, Nick; Sundström, Liselotte; Fuchs, Siiri; Freitak, Dalial

    2015-11-01

    Parasites are ubiquitous, and the ability to defend against these is of paramount importance. One way to fight diseases is self-medication, which occurs when an organism consumes biologically active compounds to clear, inhibit, or alleviate disease symptoms. Here, we show for the first time that ants selectively consume harmful substances (reactive oxygen species, ROS) upon exposure to a fungal pathogen, yet avoid these in the absence of infection. This increased intake of ROS, while harmful to healthy ants, leads to higher survival of exposed ants. The fact that ingestion of this substance carries a fitness cost in the absence of pathogens rules out compensatory diet choice as the mechanism, and provides evidence that social insects medicate themselves against fungal infection, using a substance that carries a fitness cost to uninfected individuals.

  11. Myrmecotrophy: Plants fed by ants.

    PubMed

    Beattie, A

    1989-06-01

    Two plant genera with tubers specialized for occupation by ants absorb nutrients from waste materials accumulated by the resident colonies. The mineral resources of these host plants are augmented by colony foraging which functions as a second root system. This mutualistic interaction has become known as myrmecotrophy. Many other kinds of plant structure are apparent adaptations to accommodate ant colonies; these include pouches on leaves or petioles and hollow twigs, stems or thorns. Sometimes the ant species residing in these structures are aggressive towards enemies of the host plant and are important for plant defence. Recent research provides some evidence that myrmecotrophy may have a wider role in plant nutrition, at least when subsidizing the costs of plant defence. PMID:21227344

  12. Integrating Paleodistribution Models and Phylogeography in the Grass-Cutting Ant Acromyrmex striatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southern Lowlands of South America.

    PubMed

    Cristiano, Maykon Passos; Clemes Cardoso, Danon; Fernandes-Salomão, Tânia Maria; Heinze, Jürgen

    2016-01-01

    Past climate changes often have influenced the present distribution and intraspecific genetic diversity of organisms. The objective of this study was to investigate the phylogeography and historical demography of populations of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), a leaf-cutting ant species restricted to the open plains of South America. Additionally, we modeled the distribution of this species to predict its contemporary and historic habitat. From the partial sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I of 128 A. striatus workers from 38 locations we estimated genetic diversity and inferred historical demography, divergence time, and population structure. The potential distribution areas of A. striatus for current and quaternary weather conditions were modeled using the maximum entropy algorithm. We identified a total of 58 haplotypes, divided into five main haplogroups. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that the largest proportion of genetic variation is found among the groups of populations. Paleodistribution models suggest that the potential habitat of A. striatus may have decreased during the Last Interglacial Period (LIG) and expanded during the Last Maximum Glacial (LGM). Overall, the past potential distribution recovered by the model comprises the current potential distribution of the species. The general structuring pattern observed was consistent with isolation by distance, suggesting a balance between gene flow and drift. Analysis of historical demography showed that populations of A. striatus had remained constant throughout its evolutionary history. Although fluctuations in the area of their potential historic habitat occurred during quaternary climate changes, populations of A. striatus are strongly structured geographically. However, explicit barriers to gene flow have not been identified. These findings closely match those in Mycetophylax simplex, another ant species that in some areas occurs in sympatry with A. striatus

  13. Integrating Paleodistribution Models and Phylogeography in the Grass-Cutting Ant Acromyrmex striatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southern Lowlands of South America.

    PubMed

    Cristiano, Maykon Passos; Clemes Cardoso, Danon; Fernandes-Salomão, Tânia Maria; Heinze, Jürgen

    2016-01-01

    Past climate changes often have influenced the present distribution and intraspecific genetic diversity of organisms. The objective of this study was to investigate the phylogeography and historical demography of populations of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), a leaf-cutting ant species restricted to the open plains of South America. Additionally, we modeled the distribution of this species to predict its contemporary and historic habitat. From the partial sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I of 128 A. striatus workers from 38 locations we estimated genetic diversity and inferred historical demography, divergence time, and population structure. The potential distribution areas of A. striatus for current and quaternary weather conditions were modeled using the maximum entropy algorithm. We identified a total of 58 haplotypes, divided into five main haplogroups. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that the largest proportion of genetic variation is found among the groups of populations. Paleodistribution models suggest that the potential habitat of A. striatus may have decreased during the Last Interglacial Period (LIG) and expanded during the Last Maximum Glacial (LGM). Overall, the past potential distribution recovered by the model comprises the current potential distribution of the species. The general structuring pattern observed was consistent with isolation by distance, suggesting a balance between gene flow and drift. Analysis of historical demography showed that populations of A. striatus had remained constant throughout its evolutionary history. Although fluctuations in the area of their potential historic habitat occurred during quaternary climate changes, populations of A. striatus are strongly structured geographically. However, explicit barriers to gene flow have not been identified. These findings closely match those in Mycetophylax simplex, another ant species that in some areas occurs in sympatry with A. striatus

  14. Integrating Paleodistribution Models and Phylogeography in the Grass-Cutting Ant Acromyrmex striatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southern Lowlands of South America

    PubMed Central

    Cristiano, Maykon Passos; Clemes Cardoso, Danon; Fernandes-Salomão, Tânia Maria; Heinze, Jürgen

    2016-01-01

    Past climate changes often have influenced the present distribution and intraspecific genetic diversity of organisms. The objective of this study was to investigate the phylogeography and historical demography of populations of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), a leaf-cutting ant species restricted to the open plains of South America. Additionally, we modeled the distribution of this species to predict its contemporary and historic habitat. From the partial sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I of 128 A. striatus workers from 38 locations we estimated genetic diversity and inferred historical demography, divergence time, and population structure. The potential distribution areas of A. striatus for current and quaternary weather conditions were modeled using the maximum entropy algorithm. We identified a total of 58 haplotypes, divided into five main haplogroups. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that the largest proportion of genetic variation is found among the groups of populations. Paleodistribution models suggest that the potential habitat of A. striatus may have decreased during the Last Interglacial Period (LIG) and expanded during the Last Maximum Glacial (LGM). Overall, the past potential distribution recovered by the model comprises the current potential distribution of the species. The general structuring pattern observed was consistent with isolation by distance, suggesting a balance between gene flow and drift. Analysis of historical demography showed that populations of A. striatus had remained constant throughout its evolutionary history. Although fluctuations in the area of their potential historic habitat occurred during quaternary climate changes, populations of A. striatus are strongly structured geographically. However, explicit barriers to gene flow have not been identified. These findings closely match those in Mycetophylax simplex, another ant species that in some areas occurs in sympatry with A. striatus

  15. Ant opsins: sequences from the Saharan silver ant and the carpenter ant.

    PubMed

    Popp, M P; Grisshammer, R; Hargrave, P A; Smith, W C

    1996-03-01

    cDNA clones encoding opsins from compound eyes of carpenter ant, Camponotus abdominalis, and Saharan silver ant, Cataglyphis bombycina, were isolated from cDNA libraries. The opsin cDNAs from each species code for deduced proteins with 378 amino acids which are 92% identical. Of the 30 amino acid differences between the two proteins, 13 are non-conservative. Eight of these non-conservative substitutions are within the membrane spanning domain. The presence of a potential Schiff-base counterion in helix III in both species suggests that these opsins are the protein moiety of the visible range pigments. When compared to all known opsins, these opsins are most similar to the opsin from preying mantis (76% identity at the amino acid level). Phyletic comparisons group the two ant opsins with the other arthropod long wavelength opsins.

  16. Ant opsins: sequences from the Saharan silver ant and the carpenter ant.

    PubMed

    Popp, M P; Grisshammer, R; Hargrave, P A; Smith, W C

    1996-03-01

    cDNA clones encoding opsins from compound eyes of carpenter ant, Camponotus abdominalis, and Saharan silver ant, Cataglyphis bombycina, were isolated from cDNA libraries. The opsin cDNAs from each species code for deduced proteins with 378 amino acids which are 92% identical. Of the 30 amino acid differences between the two proteins, 13 are non-conservative. Eight of these non-conservative substitutions are within the membrane spanning domain. The presence of a potential Schiff-base counterion in helix III in both species suggests that these opsins are the protein moiety of the visible range pigments. When compared to all known opsins, these opsins are most similar to the opsin from preying mantis (76% identity at the amino acid level). Phyletic comparisons group the two ant opsins with the other arthropod long wavelength opsins. PMID:9372150

  17. Biological control of red imported fire ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Two species of Imported Fire Ants (IFA), the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, and the Black Imported Fire Ant, S. richteri Forel, were introduced into the United States in the early 1900s and currently inhabit over 320 million acres in the southern United States and Puerto Rico. Red ...

  18. Using Ants To Investigate the Environment.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hagevik, Rita A.

    2003-01-01

    Describes three inquiry-based activities designed for students to begin to understand complex environmental relationships in their own backyard. Includes investigations of ants, which allow students to establish a baseline survey of ant fauna, test the importance of ants in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenances, and increase student…

  19. Using Ants to Investigate the Environment

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hagevik, Rita A.

    2005-01-01

    The best place for students to begin to understand complex environmental relationships is in their own back yards. Doing investigations of ants allows students to establish a baseline survey of ant fauna, test the importance of ants in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenance, and increase their understanding of the environment and their…

  20. Raves & rants about invasive crazy ants

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Crazy ants” is a name that refers to various species of ants that are characterized by erratic, scurrying, or running, behavior when disturbed. Two of these species, the yellow crazy ant and the Caribbean or Rasberry [sic] crazy ant, are invasive with extremely large populations that inundate lands...

  1. Ants, Wasps, and Bees (Hymenoptera)

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Stinging wasps, bees, and ants are a problem for farm workers, particularly at harvest when these insects are attracted to ripe fruits. Researchers at the USDA-ARS Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato, WA, together with personnel at Oral Roberts University compiled available information o...

  2. Ant Ecdysteroid Extraction and Radioimmunoassay

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Ecdysteroids are a group of steroid compounds present in many plant and invertebrate species. In arthropods, they function primarily as hormones involved in the regulation of molting. This protocol describes how to extract ecdysteroid hormones from ant specimens and subsequently quantify circulating...

  3. Optimal cue integration in ants.

    PubMed

    Wystrach, Antoine; Mangan, Michael; Webb, Barbara

    2015-10-01

    In situations with redundant or competing sensory information, humans have been shown to perform cue integration, weighting different cues according to their certainty in a quantifiably optimal manner. Ants have been shown to merge the directional information available from their path integration (PI) and visual memory, but as yet it is not clear that they do so in a way that reflects the relative certainty of the cues. In this study, we manipulate the variance of the PI home vector by allowing ants (Cataglyphis velox) to run different distances and testing their directional choice when the PI vector direction is put in competition with visual memory. Ants show progressively stronger weighting of their PI direction as PI length increases. The weighting is quantitatively predicted by modelling the expected directional variance of home vectors of different lengths and assuming optimal cue integration. However, a subsequent experiment suggests ants may not actually compute an internal estimate of the PI certainty, but are using the PI home vector length as a proxy.

  4. Evolutional Ant Colony Method Using PSO

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morii, Nobuto; Aiyoshi, Eitarou

    The ant colony method is one of heuristic methods capable of solving the traveling salesman problem (TSP), in which a good tour is generated by the artificial ant's probabilistic behavior. However, the generated tour length depends on the parameter describing the ant's behavior, and the best parameters corresponding to the problem to be solved is unknown. In this technical note, the evolutional strategy is presented to find the best parameter of the ant colony by using Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) in the parameter space. Numerical simulations for benchmarks demonstrate effectiveness of the evolutional ant colony method.

  5. Tournaments and slavery in a desert ant.

    PubMed

    Hölldobler, B

    1976-05-28

    Many species of ants engage in physical fighting when territorial borders are challenged. In contrast, colonies of the honeypot ant species Myrmecocystus mimicus conduct ritualized tournaments, in which hundreds of ants perform highly stereotyped display fights. Opposing colonies summon their worker forces to the tournament area by means of an alarm-recruitment system. When one colony is considerably stronger than the other, the tournament quickly ends, and the weaker colony is raided and its ants "enslaved." This is the first example of intraspecific slavery recorded in ants.

  6. Methods for Casting Subterranean Ant Nests

    PubMed Central

    Tschinkel, Walter R.

    2010-01-01

    The study of subterranean ant nests has been impeded by the difficulty of rendering their structures in visible form. Here, several different casting materials are shown to make perfect casts of the underground nests of ants. Each material (dental plaster, paraffin wax, aluminum, zinc) has advantages and limitations, which are discussed. Some of the materials allow the recovery of the ants entombed in the casts, allowing a census of the ants to be connected with features of their nest architecture. The necessary equipment and procedures are described in the hope that more researchers will study this very important aspect of ant natural history. PMID:20673073

  7. Quantifying ant activity using vibration measurements.

    PubMed

    Oberst, Sebastian; Baro, Enrique Nava; Lai, Joseph C S; Evans, Theodore A

    2014-01-01

    Ant behaviour is of great interest due to their sociality. Ant behaviour is typically observed visually, however there are many circumstances where visual observation is not possible. It may be possible to assess ant behaviour using vibration signals produced by their physical movement. We demonstrate through a series of bioassays with different stimuli that the level of activity of meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) can be quantified using vibrations, corresponding to observations with video. We found that ants exposed to physical shaking produced the highest average vibration amplitudes followed by ants with stones to drag, then ants with neighbours, illuminated ants and ants in darkness. In addition, we devised a novel method based on wavelet decomposition to separate the vibration signal owing to the initial ant behaviour from the substrate response, which will allow signals recorded from different substrates to be compared directly. Our results indicate the potential to use vibration signals to classify some ant behaviours in situations where visual observation could be difficult.

  8. Circumvention of prey defense by a predator: ant lion vs. ant.

    PubMed Central

    Eisner, T; Baldwin, I T; Conner, J

    1993-01-01

    The pit-dwelling ant lion Myrmeleon carolinus, although topically sensitive to formic acid, is able to prey on formic acid-spraying ants (Camponotus floridanus). It kills the ants without inducing them to spray, and it sucks out the ant's body contents without puncturing the acid sac. Ordinarily, when Camponotus is attacked it retaliates by simultaneously biting and spraying, but it usually refrains from spraying until it has secured a grip with the mandibles. When Myrmeleon pulls Camponotus into the sand at the bottom of the pit, the ant is seemingly unable to grasp the ant lion and it is killed without being induced to spray. When feeding on the ant, the ant lion sucks up the contents of the nutrient-laden crop. How the ant lion differentiates between crop and acid sac, managing to spare the latter while rupturing the former, remains unknown. Images Fig. 1 Fig. 4 PMID:11607414

  9. Introduced fire ants can exclude native ants from critical mutualist-provided resources.

    PubMed

    Wilder, Shawn M; Barnum, Thomas R; Holway, David A; Suarez, Andrew V; Eubanks, Micky D

    2013-05-01

    Animals frequently experience resource imbalances in nature. For ants, one resource that may be particularly valuable for both introduced and native species is high-carbohydrate honeydew from hemipteran mutualists. We conducted field and laboratory experiments: (1) to test if red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) competed with native ants for access to mutualisms with aphids, and (2) to quantify the effects of aphid honeydew presence or absence on colony growth of native ants. We focused on native dolichoderine ants (Formicidae, Dolichoderinae) because they are abundant ants that have omnivorous diets that frequently include mutualist-provided carbohydrates. At two sites in the southeastern US, native dolichoderine ants were far less frequent, and fire ants more frequent, at carbohydrate baits than would be expected based on their frequency in pitfall traps. A field experiment confirmed that a native ant species, Dorymyrmex bureni, was only found tending aphids when populations of S. invicta were suppressed. In the laboratory, colonies of native dolichoderine ants with access to both honeydew and insect prey had twice as many workers and over twice as much brood compared to colonies fed only ad libitum insect prey. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that introduced ants compete for access to mutualist-provided carbohydrates with native ants and that these carbohydrates represent critical resources for both introduced and native ants. These results challenge traditional paradigms of arthropod and ant nutrition and contribute to growing evidence of the importance of nutrition in mediating ecological interactions.

  10. Team swimming in ant spermatozoa.

    PubMed

    Pearcy, Morgan; Delescaille, Noémie; Lybaert, Pascale; Aron, Serge

    2014-06-01

    In species where females mate promiscuously, competition between ejaculates from different males to fertilize the ova is an important selective force shaping many aspects of male reproductive traits, such as sperm number, sperm length and sperm-sperm interactions. In eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), males die shortly after mating and their reproductive success is ultimately limited by the amount of sperm stored in the queen's spermatheca. Multiple mating by queens is expected to impose intense selective pressure on males to optimize the transfer of sperm to the storage organ. Here, we report a remarkable case of cooperation between spermatozoa in the desert ant Cataglyphis savignyi. Males ejaculate bundles of 50-100 spermatozoa. Sperm bundles swim on average 51% faster than solitary sperm cells. Team swimming is expected to increase the amount of sperm stored in the queen spermatheca and, ultimately, enhance male posthumous fitness. PMID:24919705

  11. Team swimming in ant spermatozoa.

    PubMed

    Pearcy, Morgan; Delescaille, Noémie; Lybaert, Pascale; Aron, Serge

    2014-06-01

    In species where females mate promiscuously, competition between ejaculates from different males to fertilize the ova is an important selective force shaping many aspects of male reproductive traits, such as sperm number, sperm length and sperm-sperm interactions. In eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), males die shortly after mating and their reproductive success is ultimately limited by the amount of sperm stored in the queen's spermatheca. Multiple mating by queens is expected to impose intense selective pressure on males to optimize the transfer of sperm to the storage organ. Here, we report a remarkable case of cooperation between spermatozoa in the desert ant Cataglyphis savignyi. Males ejaculate bundles of 50-100 spermatozoa. Sperm bundles swim on average 51% faster than solitary sperm cells. Team swimming is expected to increase the amount of sperm stored in the queen spermatheca and, ultimately, enhance male posthumous fitness.

  12. Team swimming in ant spermatozoa

    PubMed Central

    Pearcy, Morgan; Delescaille, Noémie; Lybaert, Pascale; Aron, Serge

    2014-01-01

    In species where females mate promiscuously, competition between ejaculates from different males to fertilize the ova is an important selective force shaping many aspects of male reproductive traits, such as sperm number, sperm length and sperm–sperm interactions. In eusocial Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), males die shortly after mating and their reproductive success is ultimately limited by the amount of sperm stored in the queen's spermatheca. Multiple mating by queens is expected to impose intense selective pressure on males to optimize the transfer of sperm to the storage organ. Here, we report a remarkable case of cooperation between spermatozoa in the desert ant Cataglyphis savignyi. Males ejaculate bundles of 50–100 spermatozoa. Sperm bundles swim on average 51% faster than solitary sperm cells. Team swimming is expected to increase the amount of sperm stored in the queen spermatheca and, ultimately, enhance male posthumous fitness. PMID:24919705

  13. Revolutionizing Remote Exploration with ANTS

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clark, P. E.; Rilee, M. L.; Curtis, S.; Truszkowski, W.

    2002-05-01

    We are developing the Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm (ANTS) architecture based on an insect colony analogue for the cost-effective, efficient, systematic survey of remote or inaccessible areas with multiple object targets, including planetary surface, marine, airborne, and space environments. The mission context is the exploration in the 2020s of the most compelling remaining targets in the solar system: main belt asteroids. Main belt asteroids harbor important clues to Solar System origins and evolution which are central to NASA's goals in Space Science. Asteroids are smaller than planets, but their number is far greater, and their combined surface area likely dwarfs the Earth's. An asteroid survey will dramatically increase our understanding of the local resources available for the Human Exploration and Development of Space. During the mission composition, shape, gravity, and orbit parameters could be returned to Earth for perhaps several thousand asteroids. A survey of this area will rival the great explorations that encircled this globe, opened up the New World, and laid the groundwork for the progress and challenges of the last centuries. The ANTS architecture for a main belt survey consists of a swarm of as many as a thousand or more highly specialized pico-spacecraft that form teams to survey as many as one hundred asteroids a month. Multi-level autonomy is critical for ANTS and the objective of the proposed study is to work through the implications and constraints this entails. ANTS couples biologically inspired autonomic control for basic functions to higher level artificial intelligence that together enable individual spacecraft to operate as specialized, cooperative, social agents. This revolutionary approach postulates highly advanced, but familiar, components integrated and operated in a way that uniquely transcends any evolutionary extrapolation of existing trends and enables thousand-spacecraft missions.

  14. Fire ant-detecting canines: a complementary method in detecting red imported fire ants.

    PubMed

    Lin, Hui-Min; Chi, Wei-Lien; Lin, Chung-Chi; Tseng, Yu-Ching; Chen, Wang-Ting; Kung, Yu-Ling; Lien, Yi-Yang; Chen, Yang-Yuan

    2011-02-01

    In this investigation, detection dogs are trained and used in identifying red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, and their nests. The methodology could assist in reducing the frequency and scope of chemical treatments for red imported fire ant management and thus reduce labor costs and chemical use as well as improve control and quarantine efficiency. Three dogs previously trained for customs quarantine were retrained to detect the scents of red imported fire ants. After passing tests involving different numbers of live red imported fire ants and three other ant species--Crematogaster rogenhoferi Mayr, Paratrechina longicornis Latreille, and Pheidole megacephala F.--placed in containers, ajoint field survey for red imported fire ant nests by detection dogs and bait traps was conducted to demonstrate their use as a supplement to conventional detection methods. The most significant findings in this report are (1) with 10 or more red imported fire ants in scent containers, the dogs had >98% chance in tracing the red imported fire ant. Upon the introduction of other ant species, the dogs still achieved on average, a 93% correct red imported fire ant indication rate. Moreover, the dogs demonstrated great competence in pinpointing emerging and smaller red imported fire ant nests in red imported fire ant-infested areas that had been previously confirmed by bait trap stations. (2) Along with the bait trap method, we also discovered that approximately 90% of red imported fire ants foraged within a distance of 14 m away from their nests. The results prove detection dogs to be most effective for red imported fire ant control in areas that have been previously treated with pesticides and therefore containing a low density of remaining red imported fire ant nests. Furthermore, as a complement to other red imported fire ant monitoring methods, this strategy will significantly increase the efficacy of red imported fire ant control in cases of individual mount treatment.

  15. Ant Larval Demand Reduces Aphid Colony Growth Rates in an Ant-Aphid Interactio

    PubMed Central

    Oliver, Tom H.; Leather, Simon R.; Cook, James M.

    2012-01-01

    Ants often form mutualistic interactions with aphids, soliciting honeydew in return for protective services. Under certain circumstances, however, ants will prey upon aphids. In addition, in the presence of ants aphids may increase the quantity or quality of honeydew produced, which is costly. Through these mechanisms, ant attendance can reduce aphid colony growth rates. However, it is unknown whether demand from within the ant colony can affect the ant-aphid interaction. In a factorial experiment, we tested whether the presence of larvae in Lasius niger ant colonies affected the growth rate of Aphis fabae colonies. Other explanatory variables tested were the origin of ant colonies (two separate colonies were used) and previous diet (sugar only or sugar and protein). We found that the presence of larvae in the ant colony significantly reduced the growth rate of aphid colonies. Previous diet and colony origin did not affect aphid colony growth rates. Our results suggest that ant colonies balance the flow of two separate resources from aphid colonies- renewable sugars or a protein-rich meal, depending on demand from ant larvae within the nest. Aphid payoffs from the ant-aphid interaction may change on a seasonal basis, as the demand from larvae within the ant colony waxes and wanes. PMID:26467951

  16. Blind and myopic ants in heterogeneous networks

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hwang, S.; Lee, D.-S.; Kahng, B.

    2014-11-01

    The diffusion processes on complex networks may be described by different Laplacian matrices due to heterogeneous connectivity. Here we investigate the random walks of blind ants and myopic ants on heterogeneous networks: While a myopic ant hops to a neighbor node every step, a blind ant may stay or hop with probabilities that depend on node connectivity. By analyzing the trajectories of blind ants, we show that the asymptotic behaviors of both random walks are related by rescaling time and probability with node connectivity. Using this result, we show how the small eigenvalues of the Laplacian matrices generating the two random walks are related. As an application, we show how the return-to-origin probability of a myopic ant can be used to compute the scaling behaviors of the Edwards-Wilkinson model, a representative model of load balancing on networks.

  17. Usefulness of fire ant genetics in insecticide efficacy trials

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Mature fire ant colonies contain an average of 80,000 worker ants. For this study, eight fire ant workers were randomly sampled from each colony. DNA fingerprints for each individual ant were generated using 21 simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers that were developed from fire ant DNA by other lab...

  18. Symbiont recruitment versus ant-symbiont co-evolution in the attine ant-microbe symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Mueller, Ulrich G

    2012-06-01

    The symbiosis between fungus-farming ants (Attini, Formicidae), their cultivated fungi, garden-infecting Escovopsis pathogens, and Pseudonocardia bacteria on the ant integument has been popularized as an example of ant-Escovopsis-Pseudonocardia co-evolution. Recent research could not verify earlier conclusions regarding antibiotic-secreting, integumental Pseudonocardia that co-evolve to specifically suppress Escovopsis disease in an ancient co-evolutionary arms-race. Rather than long-term association with a single, co-evolving Pseudonocardia strain, attine ants accumulate complex, dynamic biofilms on their integument and in their gardens. Emerging views are that the integumental biofilms protect the ants primarily against ant diseases, whereas garden biofilms protect primarily against garden diseases; attine ants selectively recruit ('screen in') microbes into their biofilms; and the biofilms of ants and gardens serve diverse functions beyond disease-suppression.

  19. An Efficient Ant-Based Edge Detector

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Aydın, Doğan

    An efficient ant-based edge detector is presented. It is based on the distribution of ants on an image, ants try to find possible edges by using a state transition function based on 5x5 edge structures. Visual comparisons show that the proposed method gives finer details and thinner edges at lesser computational times when compared to earlier ant-based approaches. When compared to standard edge detectors, it shows robustness to Gaussian and Salt & Pepper noise and provides finer details than others with same parameter set in both clear and noisy images.

  20. Path integration in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis.

    PubMed

    Müller, M; Wehner, R

    1988-07-01

    Foraging desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, continually keep track of their own posotions relative to home- i.e., integrate their tortuous outbound routes and return home along straight (inbound) routes. By experimentally manipulating the ants' outbound trajectories we show that the ants solve this path integration problem not by performing a true vector summation (as a human navigator does) but by employing a computationally simple approximation. This approximation is characterized by small, but systematic, navigational errors that helped us elucidate the ant's way of computing its mean home vector.

  1. Major evolutionary transitions in ant agriculture

    PubMed Central

    Schultz, Ted R.; Brady, Seán G.

    2008-01-01

    Agriculture is a specialized form of symbiosis that is known to have evolved in only four animal groups: humans, bark beetles, termites, and ants. Here, we reconstruct the major evolutionary transitions that produced the five distinct agricultural systems of the fungus-growing ants, the most well studied of the nonhuman agriculturalists. We do so with reference to the first fossil-calibrated, multiple-gene, molecular phylogeny that incorporates the full range of taxonomic diversity within the fungus-growing ant tribe Attini. Our analyses indicate that the original form of ant agriculture, the cultivation of a diverse subset of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae, evolved ≈50 million years ago in the Neotropics, coincident with the early Eocene climatic optimum. During the past 30 million years, three known ant agricultural systems, each involving a phylogenetically distinct set of derived fungal cultivars, have separately arisen from the original agricultural system. One of these derived systems subsequently gave rise to the fifth known system of agriculture, in which a single fungal species is cultivated by leaf-cutter ants. Leaf-cutter ants evolved remarkably recently (≈8–12 million years ago) to become the dominant herbivores of the New World tropics. Our analyses identify relict, extant attine ant species that occupy phylogenetic positions that are transitional between the agricultural systems. Intensive study of those species holds particular promise for clarifying the sequential accretion of ecological and behavioral characters that produced each of the major ant agricultural systems. PMID:18362345

  2. Plants in Your Ants: Using Ant Mounds to Test Basic Ecological Principles

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Zettler, Jennifer A.; Collier, Alexander; Leidersdorf, Bil; Sanou, Missa Patrick

    2010-01-01

    Urban students often have limited access to field sites for ecological studies. Ubiquitous ants and their mounds can be used to study and test ecology-based questions. We describe how soil collected from ant mounds can be used to investigate how biotic factors (ants) can affect abiotic factors in the soil that can, in turn, influence plant growth.

  3. ANT2-defective fibroblasts exhibit normal mitochondrial bioenergetics

    PubMed Central

    Prabhu, Dolly; Goldstein, Amy C.; El-Khoury, Riyad; Rak, Malgorzata; Edmunds, Lia; Rustin, Pierre; Vockley, Jerry; Schiff, Manuel

    2015-01-01

    Adenine nucleotide translocase 2 (ANT2) transports glycolytic ATP across the inner mitochondrial membrane. Patients with ANT2 deletion were recently reported. We aimed at characterizing mitochondrial functions in ANT2-defective fibroblasts. In spite of ANT2 expression in fibroblasts, we observed no difference between ANT2-defective and control fibroblasts for mitochondrial respiration, respiratory chain activities, mitochondrial membrane potential and intracellular ATP levels. This indicates that ANT2 insufficiency does not alter fibroblast basal mitochondrial bioenergetics. PMID:26000237

  4. Spectacular Batesian mimicry in ants.

    PubMed

    Ito, Fuminori; Hashim, Rosli; Huei, Yek Sze; Kaufmann, Eva; Akino, Toshiharu; Billen, Johan

    2004-10-01

    The mechanism by which palatable species take advantage of their similarity in appearance to those that are unpalatable, in order to avoid predation, is called Batesian mimicry. Several arthropods are thought to be Batesian mimics of social insects; however, social insects that are Batesian mimics among themselves are rare. In Malaysia we found a possible Batesian mimic in an arboreal ant species, Camponotus sp., which was exclusively observed on foraging trails of the myrmicine ant Crematogaster inflata. The bright yellow and black colouring pattern, as well as the walking behaviour, were very similar in both species. We observed general interactions between the two species, and tested their palatability and the significance of the remarkably similar visual colour patterns for predator avoidance. Prey offered to C. inflata was also eaten by Camponotus workers in spite of their being attacked by C. inflata, indicating that Camponotus sp. is a commensal of C. inflata. An experiment with chicks as potential predators suggests that Camponotus sp. is palatable whereas C. inflata is unpalatable. After tasting C. inflata, the chicks no longer attacked Camponotus sp., indicating that Camponotus sp. is a Batesian mimic of Crematogaster inflata.

  5. Spectacular Batesian mimicry in ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ito, Fuminori; Hashim, Rosli; Huei, Yek Sze; Kaufmann, Eva; Akino, Toshiharu; Billen, Johan

    2004-10-01

    The mechanism by which palatable species take advantage of their similarity in appearance to those that are unpalatable, in order to avoid predation, is called Batesian mimicry. Several arthropods are thought to be Batesian mimics of social insects; however, social insects that are Batesian mimics among themselves are rare. In Malaysia we found a possible Batesian mimic in an arboreal ant species, Camponotus sp., which was exclusively observed on foraging trails of the myrmicine ant Crematogaster inflata. The bright yellow and black colouring pattern, as well as the walking behaviour, were very similar in both species. We observed general interactions between the two species, and tested their palatability and the significance of the remarkably similar visual colour patterns for predator avoidance. Prey offered to C. inflata was also eaten by Camponotus workers in spite of their being attacked by C. inflata, indicating that Camponotus sp. is a commensal of C. inflata. An experiment with chicks as potential predators suggests that Camponotus sp. is palatable whereas C. inflata is unpalatable. After tasting C. inflata, the chicks no longer attacked Camponotus sp., indicating that Camponotus sp. is a Batesian mimic of Crematogaster inflata.

  6. Ant aggression and evolutionary stability in plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualistic interactions.

    PubMed

    Oña, L; Lachmann, M

    2011-03-01

    Mutualistic partners derive a benefit from their interaction, but this benefit can come at a cost. This is the case for plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualistic associations. In exchange for protection from herbivores provided by the resident ants, plants supply various kinds of resources or nests to the ants. Most ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms are horizontally transmitted, and therefore, partners share an interest in growth but not in reproduction. This lack of alignment in fitness interests between plants and ants drives a conflict between them: ants can attack pollinators that cross-fertilize the host plants. Using a mathematical model, we define a threshold in ant aggressiveness determining pollinator survival or elimination on the host plant. In our model we observed that, all else being equal, facultative interactions result in pollinator extinction for lower levels of ant aggressiveness than obligatory interactions. We propose that the capacity to discriminate pollinators from herbivores should not often evolve in ants, and when it does it will be when the plants exhibit limited dispersal in an environment that is not seed saturated so that each seed produced can effectively generate a new offspring or if ants acquire an extra benefit from pollination (e.g. if ants eat fruit). We suggest specific mutualism examples where these hypotheses can be tested empirically.

  7. Ant-seed mutualisms: Can red imported fire ants sour the relationship?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zettler, J.A.; Spira, T.P.; Allen, C.R.

    2001-01-01

    Invasion by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, has had negative impacts on individual animal and plant species, but little is known about how S. invicta affects complex mutualistic relationships. In some eastern forests of North America, 30% of herbaceous species have ant-dispersed seeds. We conducted experiments to determine if fire ants are attracted to seeds of these plant species and assessed the amount of scarification or damage that results from handling by fire ants. Fire ants removed nearly 100% of seeds of the ant-dispersed plants Trillium undulatum, T. discolor, T. catesbaei, Viola rotundifolia, and Sanguinaria canadensis. In recovered seeds fed to ant colonies, fire ants scarified 80% of S. canadensis seeds and destroyed 86% of V. rotundifolia seeds. Our study is the first to document that red imported fire ants are attracted to and remove seeds of species adapted for ant dispersal. Moreover, fire ants might damage these seeds and discard them in sites unfavorable for germination and seedling establishment. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

  8. Urban Pest Management of Ants in California

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Keeping pace with the dynamic and evolving landscape of invasive ants in California presents a formidable challenge to the pest management industry. Pest management professionals (PMPs) are on the frontlines when it comes to battling these exotic ant pests, and are often the first ones to intercept ...

  9. Neuropeptidomics of the carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus.

    PubMed

    Schmitt, Franziska; Vanselow, Jens T; Schlosser, Andreas; Kahnt, Jörg; Rössler, Wolfgang; Wegener, Christian

    2015-03-01

    Ants show a rich behavioral repertoire and a highly complex organization, which have been attracting behavioral and sociobiological researchers for a long time. The neuronal underpinnings of ant behavior and social organization are, however, much less understood. Neuropeptides are key signals that orchestrate animal behavior and physiology, and it is thus feasible to assume that they play an important role also for the social constitution of ants. Despite the availability of different ant genomes and in silico prediction of ant neuropeptides, a comprehensive biochemical survey of the neuropeptidergic communication possibilities of ants is missing. We therefore combined different mass spectrometric methods to characterize the neuropeptidome of the adult carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus. We also characterized the local neuropeptide complement in different parts of the nervous and neuroendocrine system, including the antennal and optic lobes. Our analysis identifies 39 neuropeptides encoded by different prepropeptide genes, and in silico predicts new prepropeptide genes encoding CAPA peptides, CNMamide as well as homologues of the honey bee IDLSRFYGHFNT- and ITGQGNRIF-containing peptides. Our data provides basic information about the identity and localization of neuropeptides that is required to anatomically and functionally address the role and significance of neuropeptides in ant behavior and physiology.

  10. Ants cushion applied stress by active rearrangements

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liu, Zhongyang; Hyatt, John; Mlot, Nathan; Gerov, Michael; Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto; Hu, David

    2013-11-01

    Fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, link their bodies together to form waterproof rafts, which in turn drip, spread, and coagulate, demonstrating properties of an active material that can change state from a liquid to a solid. This soft-matter phase transition is important when the raft interacts with environmental forces such as raindrops and crashing waves. We study this active behavior through plate-on-plate rheology on the ants, extracting the active components by comparison with the rheological behavior of a collection of dead ants. In controlled shear tests, both and live and dead ants show properties of a non-Newtonian fluid, specifically, shear-thinning behavior. In oscillatory tests, live ants exhibit a rare behavior in which their storage modulus (G') and loss modulus (G'') have approximately the same value over three orders magnitudes of frequency and two orders of magnitude of strain, indicating the ants are neither fluid nor solid. In comparison, dead ants are more solid-like, with a storage modulus twice as large as their loss modulus. This striking active behavior arises from rearrangement of their bodies and storage and dissipation of energy with the ants' muscles.

  11. Neuropeptidomics of the carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus.

    PubMed

    Schmitt, Franziska; Vanselow, Jens T; Schlosser, Andreas; Kahnt, Jörg; Rössler, Wolfgang; Wegener, Christian

    2015-03-01

    Ants show a rich behavioral repertoire and a highly complex organization, which have been attracting behavioral and sociobiological researchers for a long time. The neuronal underpinnings of ant behavior and social organization are, however, much less understood. Neuropeptides are key signals that orchestrate animal behavior and physiology, and it is thus feasible to assume that they play an important role also for the social constitution of ants. Despite the availability of different ant genomes and in silico prediction of ant neuropeptides, a comprehensive biochemical survey of the neuropeptidergic communication possibilities of ants is missing. We therefore combined different mass spectrometric methods to characterize the neuropeptidome of the adult carpenter ant Camponotus floridanus. We also characterized the local neuropeptide complement in different parts of the nervous and neuroendocrine system, including the antennal and optic lobes. Our analysis identifies 39 neuropeptides encoded by different prepropeptide genes, and in silico predicts new prepropeptide genes encoding CAPA peptides, CNMamide as well as homologues of the honey bee IDLSRFYGHFNT- and ITGQGNRIF-containing peptides. Our data provides basic information about the identity and localization of neuropeptides that is required to anatomically and functionally address the role and significance of neuropeptides in ant behavior and physiology. PMID:25641051

  12. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms.

    PubMed

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  13. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R.; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M.; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  14. Ants defend aphids against lethal disease.

    PubMed

    Nielsen, Charlotte; Agrawal, Anurag A; Hajek, Ann E

    2010-04-23

    Social insects defend their own colonies and some species also protect their mutualist partners. In mutualisms with aphids, ants typically feed on honeydew produced by aphids and, in turn guard and shelter aphid colonies from insect natural enemies. Here we report that Formica podzolica ants tending milkweed aphids, Aphis asclepiadis, protect aphid colonies from lethal fungal infections caused by an obligate aphid pathogen, Pandora neoaphidis. In field experiments, bodies of fungal-killed aphids were quickly removed from ant-tended aphid colonies. Ant workers were also able to detect infective conidia on the cuticle of living aphids and responded by either removing or grooming these aphids. Our results extend the long-standing view of ants as mutualists and protectors of aphids by demonstrating focused sanitizing and quarantining behaviour that may lead to reduced disease transmission in aphid colonies.

  15. Cryptococcus neoformans carried by Odontomachus bauri ants.

    PubMed

    Jesus, Mariana Santos de; Rodrigues, William Costa; Barbosa, Glaucia; Trilles, Luciana; Wanke, Bodo; Lazéra, Márcia dos Santos; Silva, Manuela da

    2012-06-01

    Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common causative agent of cryptococcosis worldwide. Although this fungus has been isolated from a variety of organic substrates, several studies suggest that hollow trees constitute an important natural niche for C. neoformans. A previously surveyed hollow of a living pink shower tree (Cassia grandis) positive for C. neoformans in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was chosen for further investigation. Odontomachus bauri ants (trap-jaw ants) found inside the hollow were collected for evaluation as possible carriers of Cryptococcus spp. Two out of 10 ants were found to carry phenoloxidase-positive colonies identified as C. neoformans molecular types VNI and VNII. The ants may have acted as a mechanical vector of C. neoformans and possibly contributed to the dispersal of the fungi from one substrate to another. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the association of C. neoformans with ants of the genus Odontomachus. PMID:22666855

  16. Microtubules viewed as molecular ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Tabony, James

    2006-10-01

    Populations of ants and other social insects self-organize and develop 'emergent' properties through stigmergy in which individual ants communicate with one another via chemical trails of pheromones that attract or repulse other ants. In this way, sophisticated properties and functions develop. Under appropriate conditions, in vitro microtubule preparations, initially comprised of only tubulin and GTP, behave in a similar manner. They self-organize and develop other higher-level emergent phenomena by a process where individual microtubules are coupled together by the chemical trails they produce by their own reactive growing and shrinking. This behaviour is described and compared with the behaviour of ant colonies. Viewing microtubules as populations of molecular ants may provide new insights as to how the cytoskeleton may spontaneously develop high-level functions. It is plausible that such processes occur during the early stages of embryogenesis and in cells. PMID:16968217

  17. Uncovering the complexity of ant foraging trails.

    PubMed

    Czaczkes, Tomer J; Grüter, Christoph; Jones, Sam M; Ratnieks, Francis L W

    2012-01-01

    The common garden ant Lasius niger use both trail pheromones and memory of past visits to navigate to and from food sources. In a recent paper we demonstrated a synergistic effect between route memory and trail pheromones: the presence of trail pheromones results in experienced ants walking straighter and faster. We also found that experienced ants leaving a pheromone trail deposit less pheromone. Here we focus on another finding of the experiment: the presence of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), which are used as home range markers by ants, also affects pheromone deposition behavior. When walking on a trail on which CHCs are present but trail pheromones are not, experienced foragers deposit less pheromone on the outward journey than on the return journey. The regulatory mechanisms ants use during foraging and recruitment behavior is subtle and complex, affected by multiple interacting factors such as route memory, travel direction and the presence trail pheromone and home-range markings. PMID:22482017

  18. Cryptococcus neoformans carried by Odontomachus bauri ants.

    PubMed

    Jesus, Mariana Santos de; Rodrigues, William Costa; Barbosa, Glaucia; Trilles, Luciana; Wanke, Bodo; Lazéra, Márcia dos Santos; Silva, Manuela da

    2012-06-01

    Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common causative agent of cryptococcosis worldwide. Although this fungus has been isolated from a variety of organic substrates, several studies suggest that hollow trees constitute an important natural niche for C. neoformans. A previously surveyed hollow of a living pink shower tree (Cassia grandis) positive for C. neoformans in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was chosen for further investigation. Odontomachus bauri ants (trap-jaw ants) found inside the hollow were collected for evaluation as possible carriers of Cryptococcus spp. Two out of 10 ants were found to carry phenoloxidase-positive colonies identified as C. neoformans molecular types VNI and VNII. The ants may have acted as a mechanical vector of C. neoformans and possibly contributed to the dispersal of the fungi from one substrate to another. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the association of C. neoformans with ants of the genus Odontomachus.

  19. Spatiotemporal chemotactic model for ant foraging

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ramakrishnan, Subramanian; Laurent, Thomas; Kumar, Manish; Bertozzi, Andrea L.

    2014-12-01

    In this paper, we present a generic theoretical chemotactic model that accounts for certain emergent behaviors observed in ant foraging. The model does not have many of the constraints and limitations of existing models for ants colony dynamics and takes into account the distinctly different behaviors exhibited in nature by ant foragers in search of food and food ferrying ants. Numerical simulations based on the model show trail formation in foraging ant colonies to be an emergent phenomenon and, in particular, replicate behavior observed in experiments involving the species P. megacephala. The results have broader implications for the study of randomness in chemotactic models. Potential applications include the developments of novel algorithms for stochastic search in engineered complex systems such as robotic swarms.

  20. Diaspore trait preferences of dispersing ants.

    PubMed

    Reifenrath, Kerstin; Becker, Christine; Poethke, Hans Joachim

    2012-09-01

    Elaiosomes of myrmecochorous plant seeds are known to enhance the attraction of diaspore-dispersing ants by serving as a nutritional reward. However, it remained unclear which (nutritional) compounds affect diaspore preferences of ants. We hypothesized that apart from elaiosome/seed-size ratio, volume, and physical surface of diaspores, the quantity and the composition of fatty acids, amino acids, and sugars strongly influence the diaspore preferences of different species. Chemical (nutritional) profiles as well as structural properties of seeds with and without elaiosomes were analyzed and correlated with observed seed choice behavior of ants. Cafeteria experiments in the field confirmed the enhanced attractiveness of elaiosome-bearing seeds for all three ant species tested (Lasius fuliginosus, Myrmica ruginodis, and Temnothorax nylanderi), although seeds lacking elaiosomes also were transported. In multiple-choice cafeteria experiments with simultaneously offered diaspores of 16 plant species with and without elaiosome and with highly varying structural and chemical properties, all three ant species showed distinct preferences for certain diaspore species. Correlation analyses confirmed that the presence of an elaiosome represents the crucial factor that favors ant diaspore dispersal. In addition, the composition and the content of free amino acids, and to varying degrees fatty acids, were found to significantly affect preferences of each ant species, whereas the effect of single fatty acids acting as chemical triggers for diaspore transport by ants, as supposed by several studies, was not confirmed. In conclusion, although at least some diaspore species lacking elaiosomes attract ants for diaspore removal services by presenting nutritional seed coats, the production of elaiosomes seems to provide a worthwhile investment. Elaiosomes ensure rapid diaspore detection and removal due to chemical cue compounds and by offering a highly nutritional food supply, probably

  1. FDTD-ANT User Manual

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Zimmerman, Martin L.

    1995-01-01

    This manual explains the theory and operation of the finite-difference time domain code FDTD-ANT developed by Analex Corporation at the NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. This code can be used for solving electromagnetic problems that are electrically small or medium (on the order of 1 to 50 cubic wavelengths). Calculated parameters include transmission line impedance, relative effective permittivity, antenna input impedance, and far-field patterns in both the time and frequency domains. The maximum problem size may be adjusted according to the computer used. This code has been run on the DEC VAX and 486 PC's and on workstations such as the Sun Sparc and the IBM RS/6000.

  2. Ant-Based Cyber Security

    SciTech Connect

    Haack, Jereme N.; Fink, Glenn A.; Maiden, Wendy M.; McKinnon, Archibald D.; Templeton, Steven J.; Fulp, Errin W.

    2011-07-12

    We describe a swarming-agent-based, mixed-initiative approach to infrastructure defense where teams of humans and software agents defend cooperating organizations in tandem by sharing insights and solutions without violating proprietary boundaries. The system places human administrators at the appropriate level where they provide system guidance while lower-level agents carry out tasks humans are unable to perform quickly enough to mitigate today’s security threats. Cooperative Infrastructure Defense (CID) uses our ant-based approach to enable dialogue between humans and agents to foster a collaborative problem-solving environment, increase human situational awareness and influence using visualization and shared control. We discuss theoretical implementation characteristics along with results from recent proof-of-concept implementations.

  3. Spatial patterns in ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Theraulaz, Guy; Bonabeau, Eric; Nicolis, Stamatios C; Solé, Ricard V; Fourcassié, Vincent; Blanco, Stéphane; Fournier, Richard; Joly, Jean-Louis; Fernández, Pau; Grimal, Anne; Dalle, Patrice; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2002-07-23

    The origins of large-scale spatial patterns in biology have been an important source of theoretical speculation since the pioneering work by Turing (1952) on the chemical basis of morphogenesis. Knowing how these patterns emerge and their functional role is important to our understanding of the evolution of biocomplexity and the role played by self organization. However, so far, conclusive evidence for local activation-long-range inhibition mechanisms in real biological systems has been elusive. Here a well-defined experimental and theoretical analysis of the pattern formation dynamics exhibited by clustering behavior in ant colonies is presented. These experiments and a simple mathematical model show that these colonies do indeed use this type of mechanism. All microscopic variables have been measured and provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, for this type of self-organized behavior in complex biological systems, supporting early conjectures about its role in the organization of insect societies. PMID:12114538

  4. Differential Recruitment of Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius) Ants in Response to Ant Garden Herbivory.

    PubMed

    Vicente, R E; Dáttilo, W; Izzo, T J

    2014-12-01

    Although several studies have shown that ants can recognize chemical cues from their host plants in ant-plant systems, it is poorly demonstrated in ant gardens (AGs). In this interaction, ant species constantly interact with various epiphyte species. Therefore, it is possible to expect a convergence of chemical signals released by plants that could be acting to ensure that ants are able to recognize and defend epiphyte species frequently associated with AGs. In this study, it was hypothesized that ants recognize and differentiate among chemical stimuli released by AG epiphytes and non-AG epiphytes. We experimentally simulated leaf herbivore damage on three epiphyte species restricted to AGs and a locally abundant understory herb, Piper hispidum, in order to quantify the number of recruited Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius) defenders. When exposed to the AG epiphytes Peperomia macrostachya and Codonanthe uleana leaves, it was observed that the recruitment of C. femoratus workers was, on average, respectively 556% and 246% higher than control. However, the number of ants recruited by the AG epiphyte Markea longiflora or by the non-AG plant did not differ from paper pieces. This indicated that ants could discern between chemicals released by different plants, suggesting that ants can select better plants. These results can be explained by evolutionary process acting on both ants' capability in discerning plants' chemical compounds (innate attraction) or by ants' learning based on the epiphyte frequency in AGs (individual experience). To disentangle an innate behavior, a product of classical coevolutionary process, from an ant's learned behavior, is a complicated but important subject to understand in the evolution of ant-plant mutualisms.

  5. Extrafloral nectar fuels ant life in deserts

    PubMed Central

    Aranda-Rickert, Adriana; Diez, Patricia; Marazzi, Brigitte

    2014-01-01

    Interactions mediated by extrafloral nectary (EFN)-bearing plants that reward ants with a sweet liquid secretion are well documented in temperate and tropical habitats. However, their distribution and abundance in deserts are poorly known. In this study, we test the predictions that biotic interactions between EFN plants and ants are abundant and common also in arid communities and that EFNs are only functional when new vegetative and reproductive structures are developing. In a seasonal desert of northwestern Argentina, we surveyed the richness and phenology of EFN plants and their associated ants and examined the patterns in ant–plant interaction networks. We found that 25 ant species and 11 EFN-bearing plant species were linked together through 96 pairs of associations. Plants bearing EFNs were abundant, representing ca. 19 % of the species encountered in transects and 24 % of the plant cover. Most ant species sampled (ca. 77 %) fed on EF nectar. Interactions showed a marked seasonal pattern: EFN secretion was directly related to plant phenology and correlated with the time of highest ant ground activity. Our results reveal that EFN-mediated interactions are ecologically relevant components of deserts, and that EFN-bearing plants are crucial for the survival of desert ant communities. PMID:25381258

  6. How to be an ant on figs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bain, Anthony; Harrison, Rhett D.; Schatz, Bertrand

    2014-05-01

    Mutualistic interactions are open to exploitation by one or other of the partners and a diversity of other organisms, and hence are best understood as being embedded in a complex network of biotic interactions. Figs participate in an obligate mutualism in that figs are dependent on agaonid fig wasps for pollination and the wasps are dependent on fig ovules for brood sites. Ants are common insect predators and abundant in tropical forests. Ants have been recorded on approximately 11% of fig species, including all six subgenera, and often affect the fig-fig pollinator interaction through their predation of either pollinating and parasitic wasps. On monoecious figs, ants are often associated with hemipterans, whereas in dioecious figs ants predominantly prey on fig wasps. A few fig species are true myrmecophytes, with domatia or food rewards for ants, and in at least one species this is linked to predation of parasitic fig wasps. Ants also play a role in dispersal of fig seeds and may be particularly important for hemi-epiphytic species, which require high quality establishment microsites in the canopy. The intersection between the fig-fig pollinator and ant-plant systems promises to provide fertile ground for understanding mutualistic interactions within the context of complex interaction networks.

  7. Regulation of ants' foraging to resource productivity.

    PubMed Central

    Mailleux, Anne-Catherine; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis; Detrain, Claire

    2003-01-01

    We investigate the behavioural rule used by ant societies to adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity of aphids. When a scout finds a single food source, the decision to lay a recruitment trail is an all-or-none response based on the opportunity for this scout to ingest a desired volume acting as a threshold. Here, we demonstrate, through experimental and theoretical approaches, the generic value of this recruitment rule that remains valid when ants have to forage on multiple small sugar feeders to reach their desired volume. Moreover, our experiments show that when ants decide to recruit nest-mates they lay trail marks of equal intensity, whatever the number of food sources visited. A model based on the 'desired volume' rule of recruitment as well as on experimentally validated parameter values was built to investigate how ant societies adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity profile of aphids. Simulations predict that, with such recruiting rules, the percentage of recruiting ants is directly related to the total production of honeydew. Moreover, an optimal number of foragers exists that maximizes the strength of recruitment, this number being linearly related to the total production of honeydew by the aphid colony. The 'desired volume' recruitment rule that should be generic for all ant species is enough to explain how ants optimize trail recruitment and select aphid colonies or other liquid food resources according to their productivity profile. PMID:12908982

  8. Modeling the dynamics of ant colony optimization.

    PubMed

    Merkle, Daniel; Middendorf, Martin

    2002-01-01

    The dynamics of Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) algorithms is studied using a deterministic model that assumes an average expected behavior of the algorithms. The ACO optimization metaheuristic is an iterative approach, where in every iteration, artificial ants construct solutions randomly but guided by pheromone information stemming from former ants that found good solutions. The behavior of ACO algorithms and the ACO model are analyzed for certain types of permutation problems. It is shown analytically that the decisions of an ant are influenced in an intriguing way by the use of the pheromone information and the properties of the pheromone matrix. This explains why ACO algorithms can show a complex dynamic behavior even when there is only one ant per iteration and no competition occurs. The ACO model is used to describe the algorithm behavior as a combination of situations with different degrees of competition between the ants. This helps to better understand the dynamics of the algorithm when there are several ants per iteration as is always the case when using ACO algorithms for optimization. Simulations are done to compare the behavior of the ACO model with the ACO algorithm. Results show that the deterministic model describes essential features of the dynamics of ACO algorithms quite accurately, while other aspects of the algorithms behavior cannot be found in the model. PMID:12227995

  9. Ant navigation: resetting the path integrator.

    PubMed

    Knaden, Markus; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2006-01-01

    Desert ants use path integration as their predominant system of long-distance navigation, but they also make use of route-defining and nest-defining visual landmarks. Such landmark-gained information might override the information provided by the path integrator, but nevertheless the path integrator keeps running. Here we show that only cues that are associated with the ant being inside the nest are able to reset the path integrator to zero state. Ants were captured at a feeder, i.e. without having run off their home vector, and were forced to enter the nest. On their next outbound run their walking direction differed by 180 degrees from that of ants that had also been captured at the feeder but instead of having been forced to enter the interior of the nest were released at its entrance. Whereas these latter ants still ran off their home vector pointing in the feeder-nest direction (and by this departed from the nest in a direction opposite to the feeder direction) the former ants had reset their home vector to zero state, and had therefore been able to reload their learned feeder vector, and consequently departed from the nest in the feeder direction. Owing to its egocentric nature the path-integrator is error prone. Hence, it is a suitable strategy to reset the path integrator if the ant has appeared at its final goal, the nest. Otherwise during consecutive foraging runs navigational errors would steadily increase.

  10. Extensional Rheology of Fire Ant Aggregates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Franklin, Scott; Kern, Matthew; Phonekeo, Sulisay; Hu, David

    We explore the extensional rheology and self-healing of fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) aggregations, mechanically entangled ensembles used to form rafts, bivouacs or bridges. Macroscopic experiments create quasi-two dimensional piles and measure the force required to impose a constant end-velocity. This force fluctuates, reminiscent of similar experiments on geometrically cohesive granular materials. Heterogeneous chains develop, with isolated ants often the sole link between top and bottom. Finally, the maximum pile strength scales sub-linearly with the number of ants, with the maximum force per ant decreasing as the pile grows. We reproduce these behaviors with a simple model that represents ants feet as discs connected by a spring (the ''leg''). Discs move randomly, and stick to one another when in contact. Discs in contact un-stick at random with a probability that decreases as the spring (leg) is stretched, modeling an ant's tendency to hold on longer when stretched. Simulations qualitatively reproduces the fluctuating force, chain formation and sublinear scaling of maximum force with particle number and give insight into underlying mechanisms that govern the ants' behaviors. Funded in part by NSF DMR #1133722.

  11. Regulation of ants' foraging to resource productivity.

    PubMed

    Mailleux, Anne-Catherine; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis; Detrain, Claire

    2003-08-01

    We investigate the behavioural rule used by ant societies to adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity of aphids. When a scout finds a single food source, the decision to lay a recruitment trail is an all-or-none response based on the opportunity for this scout to ingest a desired volume acting as a threshold. Here, we demonstrate, through experimental and theoretical approaches, the generic value of this recruitment rule that remains valid when ants have to forage on multiple small sugar feeders to reach their desired volume. Moreover, our experiments show that when ants decide to recruit nest-mates they lay trail marks of equal intensity, whatever the number of food sources visited. A model based on the 'desired volume' rule of recruitment as well as on experimentally validated parameter values was built to investigate how ant societies adjust their foraging response to the honeydew productivity profile of aphids. Simulations predict that, with such recruiting rules, the percentage of recruiting ants is directly related to the total production of honeydew. Moreover, an optimal number of foragers exists that maximizes the strength of recruitment, this number being linearly related to the total production of honeydew by the aphid colony. The 'desired volume' recruitment rule that should be generic for all ant species is enough to explain how ants optimize trail recruitment and select aphid colonies or other liquid food resources according to their productivity profile.

  12. Pheromone disruption of Argentine ant trail integrity

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Suckling, D.M.; Peck, R.W.; Manning, L.M.; Stringer, L.D.; Cappadonna, J.; El-Sayed, A. M.

    2008-01-01

    Disruption of Argentine ant trail following and reduced ability to forage (measured by bait location success) was achieved after presentation of an oversupply of trail pheromone, (Z)-9-hexadecenal. Experiments tested single pheromone point sources and dispersion of a formulation in small field plots. Ant walking behavior was recorded and digitized by using video tracking, before and after presentation of trail pheromone. Ants showed changes in three parameters within seconds of treatment: (1) Ants on trails normally showed a unimodal frequency distribution of walking track angles, but this pattern disappeared after presentation of the trail pheromone; (2) ants showed initial high trail integrity on a range of untreated substrates from painted walls to wooden or concrete floors, but this was significantly reduced following presentation of a point source of pheromone; (3) the number of ants in the pheromone-treated area increased over time, as recruitment apparently exceeded departures. To test trail disruption in small outdoor plots, the trail pheromone was formulated with carnuba wax-coated quartz laboratory sand (1 g quartz sand/0.2 g wax/1 mg pheromone). The pheromone formulation, with a half-life of 30 h, was applied by rotary spreader at four rates (0, 2.5, 7.5, and 25 mg pheromone/m2) to 1- and 4-m2 plots in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Ant counts at bait cards in treated plots were significantly reduced compared to controls on the day of treatment, and there was a significant reduction in ant foraging for 2 days. These results show that trail pheromone disruption of Argentine ants is possible, but a much more durable formulation is needed before nest-level impacts can be expected. ?? 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

  13. Pheromone disruption of Argentine ant trail integrity.

    PubMed

    Suckling, D M; Peck, R W; Manning, L M; Stringer, L D; Cappadonna, J; El-Sayed, A M

    2008-12-01

    Disruption of Argentine ant trail following and reduced ability to forage (measured by bait location success) was achieved after presentation of an oversupply of trail pheromone, (Z)-9-hexadecenal. Experiments tested single pheromone point sources and dispersion of a formulation in small field plots. Ant walking behavior was recorded and digitized by using video tracking, before and after presentation of trail pheromone. Ants showed changes in three parameters within seconds of treatment: (1) Ants on trails normally showed a unimodal frequency distribution of walking track angles, but this pattern disappeared after presentation of the trail pheromone; (2) ants showed initial high trail integrity on a range of untreated substrates from painted walls to wooden or concrete floors, but this was significantly reduced following presentation of a point source of pheromone; (3) the number of ants in the pheromone-treated area increased over time, as recruitment apparently exceeded departures. To test trail disruption in small outdoor plots, the trail pheromone was formulated with carnuba wax-coated quartz laboratory sand (1 g quartz sand/0.2 g wax/1 mg pheromone). The pheromone formulation, with a half-life of 30 h, was applied by rotary spreader at four rates (0, 2.5, 7.5, and 25 mg pheromone/m(2)) to 1- and 4-m(2) plots in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Ant counts at bait cards in treated plots were significantly reduced compared to controls on the day of treatment, and there was a significant reduction in ant foraging for 2 days. These results show that trail pheromone disruption of Argentine ants is possible, but a much more durable formulation is needed before nest-level impacts can be expected. PMID:19034574

  14. 9 CFR 381.71 - Condemnation on ante mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-01-01

    ... 9 Animals and Animal Products 2 2010-01-01 2010-01-01 false Condemnation on ante mortem inspection... INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATION POULTRY PRODUCTS INSPECTION REGULATIONS Ante Mortem Inspection § 381.71 Condemnation on ante mortem inspection. (a) Birds plainly showing on ante mortem inspection any disease...

  15. 9 CFR 354.121 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-01-01

    ... 9 Animals and Animal Products 2 2010-01-01 2010-01-01 false Ante-mortem inspection. 354.121 Section 354.121 Animals and Animal Products FOOD SAFETY AND INSPECTION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE... Procedures; Ante-Mortem Inspections § 354.121 Ante-mortem inspection. An ante-mortem inspection of...

  16. Multitasking in a plant-ant interaction: how does Acacia myrtifolia manage both ants and pollinators?

    PubMed

    Martínez-Bauer, Angélica E; Martínez, Gerardo Cerón; Murphy, Daniel J; Burd, Martin

    2015-06-01

    Plant associations with protective ants are widespread among angiosperms, but carry the risk that ants will deter pollinators as well as herbivores. Such conflict, and adaptations to ameliorate or prevent the conflict, have been documented in African and neotropical acacias. Ant-acacia associations occur in Australia, but little is known of their ecology. Moreover, recent phylogenetic evidence indicates that Australian acacias are only distantly related to African and American acacias, providing an intercontinental natural experiment in the management of ant-pollinator conflict. We examined four populations of Acacia myrtifolia over a 400-km environmental gradient in southeastern Australia using ant and pollinator exclusion as well as direct observation of ants and pollinators to assess the potential for ant-pollinator conflict to affect seed set. Native bees were the only group of floral visitors whose visitation rates were a significant predictor of fruiting success, although beetles and wasps may play an important role as "insurance" pollinators. We found no increase in pollinator visitation or fruiting success following ant exclusion, even with large sample sizes and effective exclusion. Because ants are facultative visitors to A. myrtifolia plants, their presence may be insufficient to interfere greatly with floral visitors. It is also likely that the morphological location of extrafloral nectaries tends to draw ants away from reproductive parts, although we commonly observed ants on inflorescences, so the spatial separation is not strict. A. myrtifolia appears to maintain a generalized mutualism over a wide geographic range without the need for elaborate adaptations to resolve ant-pollinator conflict. PMID:25571873

  17. Multitasking in a plant-ant interaction: how does Acacia myrtifolia manage both ants and pollinators?

    PubMed

    Martínez-Bauer, Angélica E; Martínez, Gerardo Cerón; Murphy, Daniel J; Burd, Martin

    2015-06-01

    Plant associations with protective ants are widespread among angiosperms, but carry the risk that ants will deter pollinators as well as herbivores. Such conflict, and adaptations to ameliorate or prevent the conflict, have been documented in African and neotropical acacias. Ant-acacia associations occur in Australia, but little is known of their ecology. Moreover, recent phylogenetic evidence indicates that Australian acacias are only distantly related to African and American acacias, providing an intercontinental natural experiment in the management of ant-pollinator conflict. We examined four populations of Acacia myrtifolia over a 400-km environmental gradient in southeastern Australia using ant and pollinator exclusion as well as direct observation of ants and pollinators to assess the potential for ant-pollinator conflict to affect seed set. Native bees were the only group of floral visitors whose visitation rates were a significant predictor of fruiting success, although beetles and wasps may play an important role as "insurance" pollinators. We found no increase in pollinator visitation or fruiting success following ant exclusion, even with large sample sizes and effective exclusion. Because ants are facultative visitors to A. myrtifolia plants, their presence may be insufficient to interfere greatly with floral visitors. It is also likely that the morphological location of extrafloral nectaries tends to draw ants away from reproductive parts, although we commonly observed ants on inflorescences, so the spatial separation is not strict. A. myrtifolia appears to maintain a generalized mutualism over a wide geographic range without the need for elaborate adaptations to resolve ant-pollinator conflict.

  18. Evidence that insect herbivores are deterred by ant pheromones.

    PubMed

    Offenberg, Joachim; Nielsen, Mogens Gissel; MacIntosh, Donald J; Havanon, Sopon; Aksornkoae, Sanit

    2004-12-01

    It is well documented that ants can protect plants against insect herbivores, but the underlying mechanisms remain almost undocumented. We propose and test the pheromone avoidance hypothesis--an indirect mechanism where insect herbivores are repelled not only by ants but also by ant pheromones. Herbivores subjected to ant predation will experience a selective advantage if they evolve mechanisms enabling them to avoid feeding within ant territories. Such a mechanism could be based on the ability to detect and evade ant pheromones. Field observations and data from the literature showed that the ant Oecophylla smaragdina distributes persistent pheromones throughout its territory. In addition, a laboratory test showed that the beetle Rhyparida wallacei, which this ant preys on, was reluctant to feed on leaves sampled within ant territories compared with leaves sampled outside territories. Thus, this study provides an example of an ant-herbivore system conforming to the pheromone avoidance hypothesis.

  19. Evidence that insect herbivores are deterred by ant pheromones.

    PubMed

    Offenberg, Joachim; Nielsen, Mogens Gissel; MacIntosh, Donald J; Havanon, Sopon; Aksornkoae, Sanit

    2004-12-01

    It is well documented that ants can protect plants against insect herbivores, but the underlying mechanisms remain almost undocumented. We propose and test the pheromone avoidance hypothesis--an indirect mechanism where insect herbivores are repelled not only by ants but also by ant pheromones. Herbivores subjected to ant predation will experience a selective advantage if they evolve mechanisms enabling them to avoid feeding within ant territories. Such a mechanism could be based on the ability to detect and evade ant pheromones. Field observations and data from the literature showed that the ant Oecophylla smaragdina distributes persistent pheromones throughout its territory. In addition, a laboratory test showed that the beetle Rhyparida wallacei, which this ant preys on, was reluctant to feed on leaves sampled within ant territories compared with leaves sampled outside territories. Thus, this study provides an example of an ant-herbivore system conforming to the pheromone avoidance hypothesis. PMID:15801596

  20. Dynamics and elasticity of fire ant aggregations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto; Tennenbaum, Michael; Liu, Zhongyang; Hu, David

    2015-03-01

    Fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, form aggregations that are able to drip and spread like simple liquids, but that can also store energy and maintain a shape like elastic solids. They are an active material where the constituent particles constantly transform chemical energy into work. We find that fire ant aggregations shear thin and exhibit a stress cutoff below which they are able to oppose the applied stress. In the linear regime, the dynamics is fractal-like with both storage and shear moduli that overlap for over three orders of magnitude and that are power law with frequency. This dynamic behavior, characteristic of polymer gels and the gelation point, gives way to a predominantly elastic regime at higher ant densities. In comparison, dead ants are always solid-like.

  1. Structure and formation of ant transportation networks

    PubMed Central

    Latty, Tanya; Ramsch, Kai; Ito, Kentaro; Nakagaki, Toshiyuki; Sumpter, David J. T.; Middendorf, Martin; Beekman, Madeleine

    2011-01-01

    Many biological systems use extensive networks for the transport of resources and information. Ants are no exception. How do biological systems achieve efficient transportation networks in the absence of centralized control and without global knowledge of the environment? Here, we address this question by studying the formation and properties of inter-nest transportation networks in the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). We find that the formation of inter-nest networks depends on the number of ants involved in the construction process. When the number of ants is sufficient and networks do form, they tend to have short total length but a low level of robustness. These networks are topologically similar to either minimum spanning trees or Steiner networks. The process of network formation involves an initial construction of multiple links followed by a pruning process that reduces the number of trails. Our study thus illuminates the conditions under and the process by which minimal biological transport networks can be constructed. PMID:21288958

  2. Detection and dispersal of explosives by ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McFee, John E.; Achal, Steve; Faust, Anthony A.; Puckrin, Eldon; House, Andrew; Reynolds, Damon; McDougall, William; Asquini, Adam

    2009-05-01

    The ability of animals to detect explosives is well documented. Mammalian systems, insects and even single celled organisms have all been studied and in a few cases employed to detect explosives. This paper will describe the potential ability of ants to detect, disperse and possibly neutralize bulk explosives. In spring 2008 a team of DRDC and Itres scientists conducted experiments on detecting surface-laid and buried landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and their components. Measurements were made using state-of-the-art short wave and thermal infrared hyperspectral imagers mounted on a personnel lift. During one of the early morning measurement sessions, a wispy, long linear trail was seen to emanate several meters from piles of explosives that were situated on the ground. Upon close visual inspection, it was observed that ants had found the piles of explosives and were carrying it to their ant hill, a distance of almost 20 meters from the piles. Initial analysis of the hyperspectral images clearly revealed the trail to the ant hill of explosives, despite being present in quantities not visible to the unaided eye. This paper details these observations and discusses them in the context of landmine and IED detection and neutralization. Possible reasons for such behaviour are presented. A number of questions regarding the behaviour, many pertinent to the use of ants in a counter-landmine/IED role, are presented and possible methods of answering them are discussed. Anecdotal evidence from deminers of detection and destruction of explosives by ants are presented.

  3. Entangled active matter: From cells to ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hu, D. L.; Phonekeo, S.; Altshuler, E.; Brochard-Wyart, F.

    2016-07-01

    Both cells and ants belong to the broad field of active matter, a novel class of non-equilibrium materials composed of many interacting units that individually consume energy and collectively generate motion or mechanical stresses. However cells and ants differ from fish and birds in that they can support static loads. This is because cells and ants can be entangled, so that individual units are bound by transient links. Entanglement gives cells and ants a set of remarkable properties usually not found together, such as the ability to flow like a fluid, spring back like an elastic solid, and self-heal. In this review, we present the biology, mechanics and dynamics of both entangled cells and ants. We apply concepts from soft matter physics and wetting to characterize these systems as well as to point out their differences, which arise from their differences in size. We hope that our viewpoints will spur further investigations into cells and ants as active materials, and inspire the fabrication of synthetic active matter.

  4. Congestion and communication in confined ant traffic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gravish, Nick; Gold, Gregory; Zangwill, Andrew; Goodisman, Michael A. D.; Goldman, Daniel I.

    2014-03-01

    Many social animals move and communicate within confined spaces. In subterranean fire ants Solenopsis invicta, mobility within crowded nest tunnels is important for resource and information transport. Within confined tunnels, communication and traffic flow are at odds: trafficking ants communicate through tactile interactions while stopped, yet ants that stop to communicate impose physical obstacles on the traffic. We monitor the bi-directional flow of fire ant workers in laboratory tunnels of varied diameter D. The persistence time of communicating ant aggregations, τ, increases approximately linearly with the number of participating ants, n. The sensitivity of traffic flow increases as D decreases and diverges at a minimum diameter, Dc. A cellular automata model incorporating minimal traffic features--excluded volume and communication duration--reproduces features of the experiment. From the model we identify a competition between information transfer and the need to maintain jam-free traffic flow. We show that by balancing information transfer and traffic flow demands, an optimum group strategy exists which maximizes information throughput. We acknowledge funding from NSF PoLS #0957659 and #PHY-1205878.

  5. Visual scene perception in navigating wood ants.

    PubMed

    Lent, David D; Graham, Paul; Collett, Thomas S

    2013-04-22

    Ants, like honeybees, can set their travel direction along foraging routes using just the surrounding visual panorama. This ability gives us a way to explore how visual scenes are perceived. By training wood ants to follow a path in an artificial scene and then examining their path within transformed scenes, we identify several perceptual operations that contribute to the ants' choice of direction. The first is a novel extension to the known ability of insects to compute the "center of mass" of large shapes: ants learn a desired heading toward a point on a distant shape as the proportion of the shape that lies to the left and right of the aiming point--the 'fractional position of mass' (FPM). The second operation, the extraction of local visual features like oriented edges, is familiar from studies of shape perception. Ants may use such features for guidance by keeping them in desired retinal locations. Third, ants exhibit segmentation. They compute the learned FPM over the whole of a simple scene, but over a segmented region of a complex scene. We suggest how the three operations may combine to provide efficient directional guidance.

  6. Antarctic Tephra Database (AntT)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kurbatov, A.; Dunbar, N. W.; Iverson, N. A.; Gerbi, C. C.; Yates, M. G.; Kalteyer, D.; McIntosh, W. C.

    2014-12-01

    Modern paleoclimate research is heavily dependent on establishing accurate timing related to rapid shifts in Earth's climate system. The ability to correlate these events at local, and ideally at the intercontinental scales, allows assessment, for example, of phasing or changes in atmospheric circulation. Tephra-producing volcanic eruptions are geologically instantaneous events that are largely independent of climate. We have developed a tephrochronological framework for paleoclimate research in Antarctic in a user friendly, freely accessible online Antarctic tephra (AntT) database (http://cci.um.maine.edu/AntT/). Information about volcanic events, including physical and geochemical characteristics of volcanic products collected from multiple data sources, are integrated into the AntT database.The AntT project establishes a new centralized data repository for Antarctic tephrochronology, which is needed for precise correlation of records between Antarctic ice cores (e.g. WAIS Divide, RICE, Talos Dome, ITASE) and global paleoclimate archives. The AntT will help climatologists, paleoclimatologists, atmospheric chemists, geochemists, climate modelers synchronize paleoclimate archives using volcanic products that establishing timing of climate events in different geographic areas, climate-forcing mechanisms, natural threshold levels in the climate system. All these disciplines will benefit from accurate reconstructions of the temporal and spatial distribution of past rapid climate change events in continental, atmospheric, marine and polar realms. Research is funded by NSF grants: ANT-1142007 and 1142069.

  7. Toxic industrial deposit remediation by ant activity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jilkova, Veronika; Frouz, Jan

    2016-04-01

    Toxic industrial deposits are often contaminated by heavy metals and the substrates have low pH values. In such systems, soil development is thus slowed down by high toxicity and acidic conditions which are unfavourable to soil fauna. Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) are considered tolerant to heavy metal pollution and are known to increase organic matter content and microbial activity in their nests. Here, we focused on soil remediation caused by three ant species (Formica sanguinea, Lasius niger, and Tetramorium sp.) in an ore-washery sedimentation basin near Chvaletice (Czech Republic). Soil samples were taken from the centre of ant nests and from the nest surroundings (>3 m from nests). Samples were then analyzed for microbial activity and biomass and contents of organic matter and nutrients. As a result, ant species that most influenced soil properties was F. sanguinea as there were higher microbial activity and total nitrogen and ammonia contents in ant nests than in the surrounding soil. We expected such a result because F. sanguinea builds conspicuous large nests and is a carnivorous species that brings substantial amounts of nitrogen in insect prey to their nests. Effects of the other two ant species might be lower because of smaller nests and different feeding habits as they rely mainly on honeydew from aphids or on plant seeds that do not contain much nutrients.

  8. Ant semiochemicals limit apterous aphid dispersal.

    PubMed

    Oliver, Thomas H; Mashanova, Alla; Leather, Simon R; Cook, James M; Jansen, Vincent A A

    2007-12-22

    Some organisms can manipulate the nervous systems of others or alter their physiology in order to obtain benefit. Ants are known to limit alate aphid dispersal by physically removing wings and also through chemical manipulation of the alate developmental pathway. This results in reduced dispersal and higher local densities of aphids, which benefit ants in terms of increased honeydew and prey availability. Here, we show that the walking movement of mutualistic apterous aphids is also reduced by ant semiochemicals. Aphids walk slower and their dispersal from an unsuitable patch is hampered by ants. If aphid walking dispersal has evolved as a means of natural enemy escape, then ant chemicals may act as a signal indicating protection; hence, reduced dispersal could be adaptive for aphids. If, however, dispersal is primarily a means to reduce competition or to maintain persistent metapopulations, then manipulation by ants could be detrimental. Such manipulation strategies, common in host-parasite and predator-prey interactions, may be more common in mutualism than expected. PMID:17925280

  9. Ants (Formicidae): models for social complexity.

    PubMed

    Smith, Chris R; Dolezal, Adam; Eliyahu, Dorit; Holbrook, C Tate; Gadau, Jürgen

    2009-07-01

    The family Formicidae (ants) is composed of more than 12,000 described species that vary greatly in size, morphology, behavior, life history, ecology, and social organization. Ants occur in most terrestrial habitats and are the dominant animals in many of them. They have been used as models to address fundamental questions in ecology, evolution, behavior, and development. The literature on ants is extensive, and the natural history of many species is known in detail. Phylogenetic relationships for the family, as well as within many subfamilies, are known, enabling comparative studies. Their ease of sampling and ecological variation makes them attractive for studying populations and questions relating to communities. Their sociality and variation in social organization have contributed greatly to an understanding of complex systems, division of labor, and chemical communication. Ants occur in colonies composed of tens to millions of individuals that vary greatly in morphology, physiology, and behavior; this variation has been used to address proximate and ultimate mechanisms generating phenotypic plasticity. Relatedness asymmetries within colonies have been fundamental to the formulation and empirical testing of kin and group selection theories. Genomic resources have been developed for some species, and a whole-genome sequence for several species is likely to follow in the near future; comparative genomics in ants should provide new insights into the evolution of complexity and sociogenomics. Future studies using ants should help establish a more comprehensive understanding of social life, from molecules to colonies. PMID:20147200

  10. Exploration adjustment by ant colonies

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    How do animals in groups organize their work? Division of labour, i.e. the process by which individuals within a group choose which tasks to perform, has been extensively studied in social insects. Variability among individuals within a colony seems to underpin both the decision over which tasks to perform and the amount of effort to invest in a task. Studies have focused mainly on discrete tasks, i.e. tasks with a recognizable end. Here, we study the distribution of effort in nest seeking, in the absence of new nest sites. Hence, this task is open-ended and individuals have to decide when to stop searching, even though the task has not been completed. We show that collective search effort declines when colonies inhabit better homes, as a consequence of a reduction in the number of bouts (exploratory events). Furthermore, we show an increase in bout exploration time and a decrease in bout instantaneous speed for colonies inhabiting better homes. The effect of treatment on bout effort is very small; however, we suggest that the organization of work performed within nest searching is achieved both by a process of self-selection of the most hard-working ants and individual effort adjustment. PMID:26909180

  11. Bacterial associates of arboreal ants and their putative functions in an obligate ant-plant mutualism.

    PubMed

    Eilmus, Sascha; Heil, Martin

    2009-07-01

    Bacterial communities are highly diverse and have great ecological importance. In the present study, we used an in silico analysis of terminal restriction fragments (tRF) to characterize the bacterial community of the plant ant Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus. This species is an obligate inhabitant of Acacia myrmecophytes and feeds exclusively on plant-derived food sources. Ants are the dominant insect group in tropical rain forests. Associations of ants with microbes, which contribute particularly to the ants' nitrogen nutrition, could allow these insects to live on mostly or entirely plant-based diets and could thus contribute to the explanation of the high abundances that are reached by tropical ants. We found tRF patterns representing at least 30 prokaryotic taxa, of which the Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Planctomycetes, Proteobacteria, and Spirochaetes comprised 93%. Because most bacterial taxa were found in all ant-derived samples studied and because the bacteria detected on the ants' host plant revealed little overlap with this community, we regard our results as reliably representing the bacterial community that is associated with P. ferrugineus. Genera with a likely function as ant symbionts were Burkholderia, Pantoea, Weissella, and several members of the Enterobacteriaceae. The presence of these and various other groups was confirmed via independent PCR and cultivation approaches. Many of the bacteria that we detected belong to purportedly N-fixing taxa. Bacteria may represent important further partners in ant-plant mutualisms, and their influences on ant nutrition can contribute to the extraordinary abundance and evolutionary success of tropical arboreal ants. PMID:19447959

  12. Impacts of residual insecticide barriers on perimeter-invading ants, with particular reference to the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile.

    PubMed

    Scharf, Michael E; Ratliff, Catina R; Bennett, Gary W

    2004-04-01

    Three liquid insecticide formulations were evaluated as barrier treatments against perimeter-invading ants at a multifamily housing complex in West Lafayette, IN. Several ant species were present at the study site, including (in order of abundance) pavement ant, Tetramorium caespitum (L.); honey ant, Prenolepis imparis (Say); odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile (Say); thief ant, Solenopsis molesta (Say); acrobat ant, Crematogaster ashmeadi (Mayr); crazy ant, Paratrechina longicornis (Latrielle), field ants, Formica spp.; and carpenter ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer). Studies began in May 2001 and concluded 8 wk later in July. Individual replicate treatments were placed 0.61 in (2 feet) up and 0.92 m (3 feet) out from the ends of 46.1 by 10.1-m (151 by 33-foot) apartment buildings. Ant sampling was performed with 10 placements of moist cat food for 1 h within treatment zones, followed by capture and removal of recruited ants for later counting. All treatments led to substantial reductions in ant numbers relative to untreated controls. The most effective treatment was fipronil, where 2% of before-treatment ant numbers were present at 8 wk after treatment. Both imidacloprid and cyfluthrin barrier treatments had efficacy comparative with fipronil, but to 4 and 2 wk, respectively. Odorous house ants were not sampled before treatment. Comparisons of ant species composition between treatments and controls revealed an increase in odorous house ant frequencies at 1-8 wk after treatment in treated locations only. These results demonstrate efficacy for both nonrepellent and repellent liquid insecticides as perimeter treatments for pest ants. In addition, our findings with odorous house ant highlight an apparent invasive-like characteristic of this species that may contribute to its dramatic increase in structural infestation rates in many areas of the United States.

  13. Impacts of residual insecticide barriers on perimeter-invading ants, with particular reference to the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile.

    PubMed

    Scharf, Michael E; Ratliff, Catina R; Bennett, Gary W

    2004-04-01

    Three liquid insecticide formulations were evaluated as barrier treatments against perimeter-invading ants at a multifamily housing complex in West Lafayette, IN. Several ant species were present at the study site, including (in order of abundance) pavement ant, Tetramorium caespitum (L.); honey ant, Prenolepis imparis (Say); odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile (Say); thief ant, Solenopsis molesta (Say); acrobat ant, Crematogaster ashmeadi (Mayr); crazy ant, Paratrechina longicornis (Latrielle), field ants, Formica spp.; and carpenter ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer). Studies began in May 2001 and concluded 8 wk later in July. Individual replicate treatments were placed 0.61 in (2 feet) up and 0.92 m (3 feet) out from the ends of 46.1 by 10.1-m (151 by 33-foot) apartment buildings. Ant sampling was performed with 10 placements of moist cat food for 1 h within treatment zones, followed by capture and removal of recruited ants for later counting. All treatments led to substantial reductions in ant numbers relative to untreated controls. The most effective treatment was fipronil, where 2% of before-treatment ant numbers were present at 8 wk after treatment. Both imidacloprid and cyfluthrin barrier treatments had efficacy comparative with fipronil, but to 4 and 2 wk, respectively. Odorous house ants were not sampled before treatment. Comparisons of ant species composition between treatments and controls revealed an increase in odorous house ant frequencies at 1-8 wk after treatment in treated locations only. These results demonstrate efficacy for both nonrepellent and repellent liquid insecticides as perimeter treatments for pest ants. In addition, our findings with odorous house ant highlight an apparent invasive-like characteristic of this species that may contribute to its dramatic increase in structural infestation rates in many areas of the United States. PMID:15154488

  14. Ecology of a fig ant-plant

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harrison, Rhett D.

    2014-05-01

    Mutualistic interactions are embedded in networks of interactions that affect the benefits accruing to the mutualistic partners. Figs and their pollinating wasps are engaged in an obligate mutualism in which the fig is dependent on the fig pollinator for pollination services and the pollinator is dependent on fig ovules for brood sites. This mutualism is exploited by non-pollinating fig wasps that utilise the same ovules, but do not provide a pollination service. Most non-pollinating wasps oviposit from outside the inflorescence (syconium), where they are vulnerable to ant predation. Ficus schwarzii is exposed to high densities of non-pollinating wasps, but Philidris sp. ants patrolling the syconia prevent them from ovipositing. Philidris rarely catch wasps, but the fig encourages the patrolling by providing a reward through extra-floral nectaries on the surface of syconia. Moreover, the reward is apparently only produced during the phase when parasitoids are ovipositing. An ant-exclusion experiment demonstrated that, in the absence of ants, syconia were heavily attacked and many aborted as a consequence. Philidris was normally rare on the figs during the receptive phase or at the time of day when wasp offspring are emerging, so predation on pollinators was limited. However, Myrmicaria sp. ants, which only occurred on three trees, preyed substantially on pollinating as well as non-pollinating wasps. F. schwarzii occurs in small clusters of trees and has an exceptionally rapid crop turnover. These factors appear to promote high densities of non-pollinating wasps and, as a consequence, may have led to both a high incidence of ants on trees and increased selective pressure on fig traits that increase the payoffs of the fig-ant interaction for the fig. The fig receives no direct benefit from the reward it provides, but protects pollinating wasps that will disperse its pollen.

  15. The descent of ant: field-measured performance of gliding ants.

    PubMed

    Munk, Yonatan; Yanoviak, Stephen P; Koehl, M A R; Dudley, Robert

    2015-05-01

    Gliding ants avoid predatory attacks and potentially mortal consequences of dislodgement from rainforest canopy substrates by directing their aerial descent towards nearby tree trunks. The ecologically relevant measure of performance for gliding ants is the ratio of net horizontal to vertical distance traveled over the course of a gliding trajectory, or glide index. To study variation in glide index, we measured three-dimensional trajectories of Cephalotes atratus ants gliding in natural rainforest habitats. We determined that righting phase duration, glide angle, and path directness all significantly influence variation in glide index. Unsuccessful landing attempts result in the ant bouncing off its target and being forced to make a second landing attempt. Our results indicate that ants are not passive gliders and that they exert active control over the aerodynamic forces they experience during their descent, despite their apparent lack of specialized control surfaces. PMID:25788722

  16. The descent of ant: field-measured performance of gliding ants.

    PubMed

    Munk, Yonatan; Yanoviak, Stephen P; Koehl, M A R; Dudley, Robert

    2015-05-01

    Gliding ants avoid predatory attacks and potentially mortal consequences of dislodgement from rainforest canopy substrates by directing their aerial descent towards nearby tree trunks. The ecologically relevant measure of performance for gliding ants is the ratio of net horizontal to vertical distance traveled over the course of a gliding trajectory, or glide index. To study variation in glide index, we measured three-dimensional trajectories of Cephalotes atratus ants gliding in natural rainforest habitats. We determined that righting phase duration, glide angle, and path directness all significantly influence variation in glide index. Unsuccessful landing attempts result in the ant bouncing off its target and being forced to make a second landing attempt. Our results indicate that ants are not passive gliders and that they exert active control over the aerodynamic forces they experience during their descent, despite their apparent lack of specialized control surfaces.

  17. Ant colony optimization algorithm for continuous domains based on position distribution model of ant colony foraging.

    PubMed

    Liu, Liqiang; Dai, Yuntao; Gao, Jinyu

    2014-01-01

    Ant colony optimization algorithm for continuous domains is a major research direction for ant colony optimization algorithm. In this paper, we propose a distribution model of ant colony foraging, through analysis of the relationship between the position distribution and food source in the process of ant colony foraging. We design a continuous domain optimization algorithm based on the model and give the form of solution for the algorithm, the distribution model of pheromone, the update rules of ant colony position, and the processing method of constraint condition. Algorithm performance against a set of test trials was unconstrained optimization test functions and a set of optimization test functions, and test results of other algorithms are compared and analyzed to verify the correctness and effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. PMID:24955402

  18. Path integration in desert ants, Cataglyphis: how to make a homing ant run away from home.

    PubMed

    Andel, David; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2004-07-22

    Path integration is an ant's lifeline on any of its foraging journeys. It results in a homebound global vector that continually informs the animal about its position relative to its starting point. Here, we use a particular (repeated training and displacement) paradigm, in which homebound ants are made to follow a familiar landmark route repeatedly from the feeder to the nest, even after they have arrived at the nest. The results show that during the repeated landmark-guided home runs the ant's path integrator runs continually, so that the current state of the homebound vector increasingly exceeds the reference state. The dramatic result is that the homing ants run away from home. This finding implies that the ants do not rely on cartographic information about the locations of nest and feeder (e.g. that the nest is always south of the feeder), but just behave according to what the state of their egocentric path integrator tells them.

  19. Ant Colony Optimization Algorithm for Continuous Domains Based on Position Distribution Model of Ant Colony Foraging

    PubMed Central

    Liu, Liqiang; Dai, Yuntao

    2014-01-01

    Ant colony optimization algorithm for continuous domains is a major research direction for ant colony optimization algorithm. In this paper, we propose a distribution model of ant colony foraging, through analysis of the relationship between the position distribution and food source in the process of ant colony foraging. We design a continuous domain optimization algorithm based on the model and give the form of solution for the algorithm, the distribution model of pheromone, the update rules of ant colony position, and the processing method of constraint condition. Algorithm performance against a set of test trials was unconstrained optimization test functions and a set of optimization test functions, and test results of other algorithms are compared and analyzed to verify the correctness and effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. PMID:24955402

  20. Statistical Mechanics of Collective Transport by Ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pinkoviezky, Itai; Gelblum, Aviram; Fonio, Ehud; Ghosh, Abhijit; Gov, Nir; Feinerman, Ofer

    Collective decisions and cooperation within groups are essential for the survival of many species. Conflicts within the group must be suppressed but conformism may render the system unresponsive to new information. Collective transport by ants is therefore an ideal model system to study how animal groups optimize these opposing requirements. We combine experiments and theory to characterize the collective transport. The ants are modeled as binary Ising spins, representing the two roles ants can perform during transport. It turns out that the ants poise themselves collectively near a critical point where the response to a newly attached ant is maximized. We identify the size as being proportional to an inverse effective temperature and thus the system can exhibit a mesoscopic transition between order and disorder by manipulating the size. Constraining the cargo with a string makes the system behave as a strongly non-linear pendulum. Theoretically we predict that a Hopf bifurcation occurs at a critical size followed by a global bifurcation where full swings emerge. Remarkably, these theoretical predictions were verified experimentally.

  1. Early ant trajectories: spatial behaviour before behaviourism.

    PubMed

    Wehner, Rüdiger

    2016-04-01

    In the beginning of the twentieth century, when Jacques Loeb's and John Watson's mechanistic view of life started to dominate animal physiology and behavioural biology, several scientists with different academic backgrounds got engaged in studying the wayfinding behaviour of ants. Largely unaffected by the scientific spirit of the time, they worked independently of each other in different countries: in Algeria, Tunisia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America. In the current literature on spatial cognition these early ant researchers--Victor Cornetz, Felix Santschi, Charles Turner and Rudolf Brun--are barely mentioned. Moreover, it is virtually unknown that the great neuroanatomist Santiago Ramón y Cajal had also worked on spatial orientation in ants. This general neglect is certainly due to the fact that nearly all these ant researchers were scientific loners, who did their idiosyncratic investigations outside the realm of comparative physiology, neurobiology and the behavioural sciences of the time, and published their results in French, German, and Spanish at rather inaccessible places. Even though one might argue that much of their work resulted in mainly anecdotal evidence, the conceptual approaches of these early ant researchers preempt much of the present-day discussions on spatial representation in animals. PMID:26898725

  2. Ant odometry in the third dimension.

    PubMed

    Wohlgemuth, S; Ronacher, B; Wehner, R

    2001-06-14

    Desert ants (Cataglyphis) are renowned for their ability to perform large-scale foraging excursions and then return to the nest by path integration. They do so by integrating courses steered and the distances travelled into a continually updated home vector. Whereas the angular orientation is based on skylight cues, how the ants gauge the distances travelled has remained largely unclear. Furthermore, almost all studies on path integration in Cataglyphis, as well as in spiders, rodents, and humans, have aimed at understanding how the animals compute homebound courses in the horizontal plane. Here, we investigate for the first time how an animal's odometer operates when a path integration task has to be accomplished that includes a vertical component. We trained Cataglyphis ants within arrays of uphill and downhill channels, and later tested them on flat terrain, or vice versa. In all these cases, the ants indicated homing distances that corresponded not to the distances actually travelled but to the ground distances; that is, to the sum of the horizontal projections of the uphill and downhill segments of the ants' paths.

  3. Fossil evidence for the early ant evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perrichot, Vincent; Lacau, Sébastien; Néraudeau, Didier; Nel, André

    2008-02-01

    Ants are one of the most studied insects in the world; and the literature devoted to their origin and evolution, systematics, ecology, or interactions with plants, fungi and other organisms is prolific. However, no consensus yet exists on the age estimate of the first Formicidae or on the origin of their eusociality. We review the fossil and biogeographical record of all known Cretaceous ants. We discuss the possible origin of the Formicidae with emphasis on the most primitive subfamily Sphecomyrminae according to its distribution and the Early Cretaceous palaeogeography. And we review the evidence of true castes and eusociality of the early ants regarding their morphological features and their manner of preservation in amber. The mid-Cretaceous amber forest from south-western France where some of the oldest known ants lived, corresponded to a moist tropical forest close to the shore with a dominance of gymnosperm trees but where angiosperms (flowering plants) were already diversified. This palaeoenvironmental reconstruction supports an initial radiation of ants in forest ground litter coincident with the rise of angiosperms, as recently proposed as an ecological explanation for their origin and successful evolution.

  4. Detection of mitochondrial COII DNA sequences in ant guts as a method for assessing termite predation by ants.

    PubMed

    Fayle, Tom M; Scholtz, Olivia; Dumbrell, Alex J; Russell, Stephen; Segar, Simon T; Eggleton, Paul

    2015-01-01

    Termites and ants contribute more to animal biomass in tropical rain forests than any other single group and perform vital ecosystem functions. Although ants prey on termites, at the community level the linkage between these groups is poorly understood. Thus, assessing the distribution and specificity of ant termitophagy is of considerable interest. We describe an approach for quantifying ant-termite food webs by sequencing termite DNA (cytochrome c oxidase subunit II, COII) from ant guts and apply this to a soil-dwelling ant community from tropical rain forest in Gabon. We extracted DNA from 215 ants from 15 species. Of these, 17.2 % of individuals had termite DNA in their guts, with BLAST analysis confirming the identity of 34.1 % of these termites to family level or better. Although ant species varied in detection of termite DNA, ranging from 63 % (5/7; Camponotus sp. 1) to 0 % (0/7; Ponera sp. 1), there was no evidence (with small sample sizes) for heterogeneity in termite consumption across ant taxa, and no evidence for species-specific ant-termite predation. In all three ant species with identifiable termite DNA in multiple individuals, multiple termite species were represented. Furthermore, the two termite species that were detected on multiple occasions in ant guts were in both cases found in multiple ant species, suggesting that ant-termite food webs are not strongly compartmentalised. However, two ant species were found to consume only Anoplotermes-group termites, indicating possible predatory specialisation at a higher taxonomic level. Using a laboratory feeding test, we were able to detect termite COII sequences in ant guts up to 2 h after feeding, indicating that our method only detects recent feeding events. Our data provide tentative support for the hypothesis that unspecialised termite predation by ants is widespread and highlight the use of molecular approaches for future studies of ant-termite food webs. PMID:25853549

  5. Detection of Mitochondrial COII DNA Sequences in Ant Guts as a Method for Assessing Termite Predation by Ants

    PubMed Central

    Fayle, Tom M.; Scholtz, Olivia; Dumbrell, Alex J.; Russell, Stephen; Segar, Simon T.; Eggleton, Paul

    2015-01-01

    Termites and ants contribute more to animal biomass in tropical rain forests than any other single group and perform vital ecosystem functions. Although ants prey on termites, at the community level the linkage between these groups is poorly understood. Thus, assessing the distribution and specificity of ant termitophagy is of considerable interest. We describe an approach for quantifying ant-termite food webs by sequencing termite DNA (cytochrome c oxidase subunit II, COII) from ant guts and apply this to a soil-dwelling ant community from tropical rain forest in Gabon. We extracted DNA from 215 ants from 15 species. Of these, 17.2 % of individuals had termite DNA in their guts, with BLAST analysis confirming the identity of 34.1 % of these termites to family level or better. Although ant species varied in detection of termite DNA, ranging from 63 % (5/7; Camponotus sp. 1) to 0 % (0/7; Ponera sp. 1), there was no evidence (with small sample sizes) for heterogeneity in termite consumption across ant taxa, and no evidence for species-specific ant-termite predation. In all three ant species with identifiable termite DNA in multiple individuals, multiple termite species were represented. Furthermore, the two termite species that were detected on multiple occasions in ant guts were in both cases found in multiple ant species, suggesting that ant-termite food webs are not strongly compartmentalised. However, two ant species were found to consume only Anoplotermes-group termites, indicating possible predatory specialisation at a higher taxonomic level. Using a laboratory feeding test, we were able to detect termite COII sequences in ant guts up to 2 h after feeding, indicating that our method only detects recent feeding events. Our data provide tentative support for the hypothesis that unspecialised termite predation by ants is widespread and highlight the use of molecular approaches for future studies of ant-termite food webs. PMID:25853549

  6. Detection of mitochondrial COII DNA sequences in ant guts as a method for assessing termite predation by ants.

    PubMed

    Fayle, Tom M; Scholtz, Olivia; Dumbrell, Alex J; Russell, Stephen; Segar, Simon T; Eggleton, Paul

    2015-01-01

    Termites and ants contribute more to animal biomass in tropical rain forests than any other single group and perform vital ecosystem functions. Although ants prey on termites, at the community level the linkage between these groups is poorly understood. Thus, assessing the distribution and specificity of ant termitophagy is of considerable interest. We describe an approach for quantifying ant-termite food webs by sequencing termite DNA (cytochrome c oxidase subunit II, COII) from ant guts and apply this to a soil-dwelling ant community from tropical rain forest in Gabon. We extracted DNA from 215 ants from 15 species. Of these, 17.2 % of individuals had termite DNA in their guts, with BLAST analysis confirming the identity of 34.1 % of these termites to family level or better. Although ant species varied in detection of termite DNA, ranging from 63 % (5/7; Camponotus sp. 1) to 0 % (0/7; Ponera sp. 1), there was no evidence (with small sample sizes) for heterogeneity in termite consumption across ant taxa, and no evidence for species-specific ant-termite predation. In all three ant species with identifiable termite DNA in multiple individuals, multiple termite species were represented. Furthermore, the two termite species that were detected on multiple occasions in ant guts were in both cases found in multiple ant species, suggesting that ant-termite food webs are not strongly compartmentalised. However, two ant species were found to consume only Anoplotermes-group termites, indicating possible predatory specialisation at a higher taxonomic level. Using a laboratory feeding test, we were able to detect termite COII sequences in ant guts up to 2 h after feeding, indicating that our method only detects recent feeding events. Our data provide tentative support for the hypothesis that unspecialised termite predation by ants is widespread and highlight the use of molecular approaches for future studies of ant-termite food webs.

  7. Moribund Ants Do Not Call for Help

    PubMed Central

    Miler, Krzysztof

    2016-01-01

    When an antlion captures a foraging ant, the victim’s nestmates may display rescue behaviour. This study tested the hypothesis that the expression of rescue behaviour depends on the life expectancy of the captured ant. This hypothesis predicts that the expression of rescue behaviour will be less frequent when the captured ant has a lower life expectancy than when it has a higher life expectancy because such a response would be adaptive at the colony level. Indeed, significant differences were found in the frequency of rescue behaviours in response to antlion victims with differing life expectancies. In agreement with prediction, victims with lower life expectancies were rescued less frequently, and those rescues had a longer latency and shorter duration. There was also a qualitative difference in the behaviour of rescuers to victims from the low and high life expectancy groups. Several explanations for these findings are proposed. PMID:26986741

  8. Establishing food site vectors in desert ants.

    PubMed

    Bolek, Siegfried; Wittlinger, Matthias; Wolf, Harald

    2012-02-15

    When returning to the site of a successful previous forage, where does one search for the goodies? Should one rely on experience from the previous homebound journey, or should one consider the outbound journey as well, or even exclusively? Desert ants are particularly well suited for pursuing this question because of their primary reliance on path integration in open and featureless desert habitats. Path integration has been studied particularly with regard to homing after lengthy foraging trips. The ants also use path integration to return to plentiful feeding sites, but what is memorised for revisiting the feeder remains controversial. Here, we demonstrate that desert ants consider, and indeed linearly average, both outbound and inbound travel for their return to a familiar feeder. This may be interpreted as a strategy to reduce navigation errors.

  9. Desert ants learn vibration and magnetic landmarks.

    PubMed

    Buehlmann, Cornelia; Hansson, Bill S; Knaden, Markus

    2012-01-01

    The desert ants Cataglyphis navigate not only by path integration but also by using visual and olfactory landmarks to pinpoint the nest entrance. Here we show that Cataglyphis noda can additionally use magnetic and vibrational landmarks as nest-defining cues. The magnetic field may typically provide directional rather than positional information, and vibrational signals so far have been shown to be involved in social behavior. Thus it remains questionable if magnetic and vibration landmarks are usually provided by the ants' habitat as nest-defining cues. However, our results point to the flexibility of the ants' navigational system, which even makes use of cues that are probably most often sensed in a different context.

  10. Moribund Ants Do Not Call for Help.

    PubMed

    Miler, Krzysztof

    2016-01-01

    When an antlion captures a foraging ant, the victim's nestmates may display rescue behaviour. This study tested the hypothesis that the expression of rescue behaviour depends on the life expectancy of the captured ant. This hypothesis predicts that the expression of rescue behaviour will be less frequent when the captured ant has a lower life expectancy than when it has a higher life expectancy because such a response would be adaptive at the colony level. Indeed, significant differences were found in the frequency of rescue behaviours in response to antlion victims with differing life expectancies. In agreement with prediction, victims with lower life expectancies were rescued less frequently, and those rescues had a longer latency and shorter duration. There was also a qualitative difference in the behaviour of rescuers to victims from the low and high life expectancy groups. Several explanations for these findings are proposed. PMID:26986741

  11. Desert Ants Learn Vibration and Magnetic Landmarks

    PubMed Central

    Buehlmann, Cornelia

    2012-01-01

    The desert ants Cataglyphis navigate not only by path integration but also by using visual and olfactory landmarks to pinpoint the nest entrance. Here we show that Cataglyphis noda can additionally use magnetic and vibrational landmarks as nest-defining cues. The magnetic field may typically provide directional rather than positional information, and vibrational signals so far have been shown to be involved in social behavior. Thus it remains questionable if magnetic and vibration landmarks are usually provided by the ants' habitat as nest-defining cues. However, our results point to the flexibility of the ants' navigational system, which even makes use of cues that are probably most often sensed in a different context. PMID:22412989

  12. Collecting live ant specimens (colony sampling).

    PubMed

    Smith, Chris R; Tschinkel, Walter R

    2009-07-01

    Because of the great diversity of ants, it is difficult to give a single protocol for the collection of live specimens. Ant body size can be very small or extremely large; the ants can be hard or soft, sting or spray toxic chemicals, live in the open or in hard-to-reach places; and colony size can range from tens of individuals to millions. Thus, collection techniques must be tailored to each particular species. In particular, caution must always be taken when dealing with stinging species, and symptoms and basic first-aid measures, especially for the treatment of anaphylactic shock, should be reviewed before beginning fieldwork. Nonetheless, many species are collectable as whole colonies. This protocol reviews some basic techniques for collecting ground-nesting species and describes how to collect whole live colonies (with queens), which are necessary for long-term laboratory studies and addressing questions of social organization and ecology. PMID:20147204

  13. An ants-eye view of an ant-plant protection mutualism

    PubMed Central

    Lanan, M. C.; Bronstein, J. L.

    2013-01-01

    Ant protection of extrafloral nectar-secreting plants (EFN plants) is a common form of mutualism found in most habitats around the world. However, very few studies have considered these mutualisms from the ant, rather than the plant, perspective. In particular, a whole-colony perspective that takes into account the spatial structure and nest arrangement of the ant colonies that visit these plants has been lacking, obscuring when and how colony-level foraging decisions might affect tending rates on individual plants. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that recruitment of Crematogaster opuntiae (Buren) ant workers to the extrafloral nectar-secreting cactus Ferocactus wislizeni (Englem) is not independent between plants up to 5m apart. Colony territories of C. opuntiae are large, covering areas of up to 5000m2, and workers visit between five and thirty-four extrafloral nectar-secreting barrel cacti within the territories. These ants are highly polydomous, with up to twenty nest entrances dispersed throughout the territory and interconnected by trail networks. Our study demonstrates that worker recruitment is not independent within large polydomous ant colonies, highlighting the importance of considering colonies rather than individual workers as the relevant study unit within ant/plant protection mutualisms PMID:23515612

  14. The Ants of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brandau, E.

    2014-12-01

    The core location of my research project was the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. The forest is located along the east coast of Kenya and belongs to the coastal forest zone of eastern Africa. The forest is considered a biodiversity hotspot, having many species being endemic to this habitat. The Arabuko Sokoke Forest is not a rainforest, like the Kakamega Forest in western Kenya, but a tropical dry forest. The objective of my research was to create a general checklist of the ant species collected in teh Arabuko Sokoke Forest in 2009. The general checklist of ant species will be used to document the differences between the three different forest habitat types (Cynometra, Brachystegia and mixed forest) and ant communities found within the forest, as well as the fauna found in those locations. The ants were collected using the leaf litter extraction method and were then mounted and idenified. The results from my research were that out of 73 specimens, there were 13 genera and 24 different species. Four of the 24 species have not been recorded for this forest before and one of the Tetramorium is likely to be a new species. The results also showed that the species diversity on the two transects are almost the same. There was very low overlap between the two transects as well: there were two shared species between the two different forest habitat types. For future work, there are still many undiscovered ant species in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. In order to get a more complete faunal overview, more samples have to be collected from different parts of the forest. To do this, the canopy ant fauna might offer additional species that were not collected in the leaf litter samples.

  15. Ant-gardens of tropical Asian rainforests.

    PubMed

    Kaufmann, Eva; Maschwitz, Ulrich

    2006-05-01

    Ant-garden (AG) associations are systems of epiphytic plants and arboricolous (i.e., tree-living) ants, in which the ants build fragile carton nests containing organic material. They collect and incorporate seeds or fruits of epiphytes that then germinate and grow on the nest [sensu Corbara et al. (1999) 38:73-89]. The plant roots stabilize the nest carton. AGs have been well-known in the neotropics for more than 100 years. In contrast, reports on similar associations in the paleotropics are scarce so far. After discovering a first common AG system on giant bamboo [Kaufmann et al. (2001) 48:125-133], we started a large-scale survey for AGs in Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Java, and southern Thailand. A great variety of AG systems (altogether including 18 ant species and 51 plant species) was discovered and is described in the present paper. The high number of species participating in AG associations was reflected by a great variability in the specific appearances of the nest gardens. Frequently, further groups of organisms (e.g., hemipteran trophobionts, fungi) were also involved. Preference patterns of particular ant and epiphyte species for each other and for particular phorophytes (carrier trees) were detected. We integrate domatia-producing, so-called ant-house epiphytes in our study and compare their phases of establishment, as well as other characteristics, to "classical" AGs, coming to the conclusion that they should be regarded only as a special type of AG epiphyte and not as a separate ecological category.

  16. Recruitment strategies and colony size in ants.

    PubMed

    Planqué, Robert; van den Berg, Jan Bouwe; Franks, Nigel R

    2010-01-01

    Ants use a great variety of recruitment methods to forage for food or find new nests, including tandem running, group recruitment and scent trails. It has been known for some time that there is a loose correlation across many taxa between species-specific mature colony size and recruitment method. Very small colonies tend to use solitary foraging; small to medium sized colonies use tandem running or group recruitment whereas larger colonies use pheromone recruitment trails. Until now, explanations for this correlation have focused on the ants' ecology, such as food resource distribution. However, many species have colonies with a single queen and workforces that grow over several orders of magnitude, and little is known about how a colony's organization, including recruitment methods, may change during its growth. After all, recruitment involves interactions between ants, and hence the size of the colony itself may influence which recruitment method is used--even if the ants' behavioural repertoire remains unchanged. Here we show using mathematical models that the observed correlation can also be explained by recognizing that failure rates in recruitment depend differently on colony size in various recruitment strategies. Our models focus on the build up of recruiter numbers inside colonies and are not based on optimality arguments, such as maximizing food yield. We predict that ant colonies of a certain size should use only one recruitment method (and always the same one) rather than a mix of two or more. These results highlight the importance of the organization of recruitment and how it is affected by colony size. Hence these results should also expand our understanding of ant ecology. PMID:20694195

  17. Multi-phase defense by the big-headed ant, Pheidole obtusospinosa, against raiding army ants.

    PubMed

    Huang, Ming H

    2010-01-01

    Army ants are well known for their destructive raids of other ant colonies. Some known defensive strategies include nest evacuation, modification of nest architecture, blockade of nest entrances using rocks or debris, and direct combat outside the nest. Since army ants highly prefer Pheidole ants as prey in desert habitats, there may be strong selective pressure on Pheidole to evolve defensive strategies to better survive raids. In the case of P. obtusospinosa Pergande (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), the worker caste system includes super majors in addition to smaller majors and minor workers. Interestingly, P. obtusospinosa and the six other New World Pheidole species described to have polymorphic major workers are all found in the desert southwest and adjacent regions of Mexico, all co-occurring with various species of Neivamyrmex army ants. Pheidole obtusospinosa used a multi-phase defensive strategy against army ant raids that involved their largest major workers. During army ant attacks, these super majors were involved in blocking the nest entrance with their enlarged heads. This is the first description of defensive head-blocking by an ant species that lacks highly modified head morphology, such as a truncated or disc-shaped head. P. obtusospinosa super majors switched effectively between passive headblocking at the nest entrance and aggressive combat outside the nest. If this multi-phase strategy is found to be used by other Pheidole species with polymorphic majors in future studies, it is possible that selective pressure by army ant raids may have been partially responsible for the convergent evolution of this extra worker caste.

  18. Ant navigation: priming of visual route memories.

    PubMed

    Harris, Robert A; Hempel de Ibarra, Natalie; Graham, Paul; Collett, Thomas S

    2005-11-17

    Ants travelling to and fro between their nest and a foraging area may follow stereotyped foodward and homeward routes that are guided by different visual and directional memory sequences. Honeybees are known to fly a feeder-to-hive or hive-to-feeder vector according to whether or not they have recently fed--their feeding state controls which compass direction they select. We show here that the feeding state of the wood ant Formica rufa also determines the choice between an outward or inward journey, but by priming the selective retrieval of visual landmark memories.

  19. Ecological sampling of ants: competition and biodiversity.

    PubMed

    Smith, Chris R

    2009-07-01

    Ants are among the most dominant taxa in terrestrial ecosystems, despite their small individual size. Furthermore, they are a hyperdiverse family with an estimated 20,000 species. Together, these two properties make ants a model for ecological interactions (specifically competition) and biodiversity estimation. Although there are many means of measuring diversity, the two most common among myrmecologists are baiting and pitfall trapping. Pitfall traps provide an almost unbiased estimate of the ground foraging community, whereas baiting allows the estimation of ecological dominance and the competitive outcomes between species. This protocol describes an approach to assay both abundance (pitfall traps) and ecological interactions (baits) in the same community. PMID:20147206

  20. Mutualistic ants as an indirect defence against leaf pathogens.

    PubMed

    González-Teuber, Marcia; Kaltenpoth, Martin; Boland, Wilhelm

    2014-04-01

    Mutualistic ants are commonly considered as an efficient indirect defence against herbivores. Nevertheless, their indirect protective role against plant pathogens has been scarcely investigated. We compared the protective role against pathogens of two different ant partners, a mutualistic and a parasitic ant, on the host plant Acacia hindsii (Fabaceae). The epiphytic bacterial community on leaves was evaluated in the presence and absence of both ant partners by cultivation and by 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Pathogen-inflicted leaf damage, epiphytic bacterial abundance (colony-forming units) and number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were significantly higher in plants inhabited by parasitic ants than in plants inhabited by mutualistic ants. Unifrac unweighted and weighted principal component analyses showed that the bacterial community composition on leaves changed significantly when mutualistic ants were removed from plants or when plants were inhabited by parasitic ants. Direct mechanisms provided by ant-associated bacteria would contribute to the protective role against pathogens. The results suggest that the indirect defence of mutualistic ants also covers the protection from bacterial plant pathogens. Our findings highlight the importance of considering bacterial partners in ant-plant defensive mutualisms, which can contribute significantly to ant-mediated protection from plant pathogens.

  1. Fire ant control with Entomopathogens in the USA

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Fire ants, Solenopsis richteri and Solenopsis invicta, are stinging invasive ants from South America that infest over 129.5 million hectares in the southern United States. In the southern U.S., eradication is no longer considered possible and toxicant-based fire ant baiting is currently the primary...

  2. Dynamics of an ant-plant-pollinator model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, Yuanshi; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Nathaniel Holland, J.

    2015-03-01

    In this paper, we consider plant-pollinator-ant systems in which plant-pollinator interaction and plant-ant interaction are both mutualistic, but there also exists interference of pollinators by ants. The plant-pollinator interaction can be described by a Beddington-DeAngelis formula, so we extend the formula to characterize plant-pollinator mutualisms, including the interference by ants, and form a plant-pollinator-ant model. Using dynamical systems theory, we show uniform persistence of the model. Moreover, we demonstrate conditions under which boundary equilibria are globally asymptotically stable. The dynamics exhibit mechanisms by which the three species could coexist when ants interfere with pollinators. We define a threshold in ant interference. When ant interference is strong, it can drive plant-pollinator mutualisms to extinction. Furthermore, if the ants depend on pollination mutualism for their persistence, then sufficiently strong ant interference could lead to their own extinction as well. Yet, when ant interference is weak, plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualisms can promote the persistence of one another.

  3. Model Specification Searches Using Ant Colony Optimization Algorithms

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Marcoulides, George A.; Drezner, Zvi

    2003-01-01

    Ant colony optimization is a recently proposed heuristic procedure inspired by the behavior of real ants. This article applies the procedure to model specification searches in structural equation modeling and reports the results. The results demonstrate the capabilities of ant colony optimization algorithms for conducting automated searches.

  4. Extreme Morphogenesis and Ecological Specialization among Cretaceous Basal Ants.

    PubMed

    Perrichot, Vincent; Wang, Bo; Engel, Michael S

    2016-06-01

    Ants comprise one lineage of the triumvirate of eusocial insects and experienced their early diversification within the Cretaceous [1-9]. Their ecological success is generally attributed to their remarkable social behavior. Not all ants cooperate in social hunting, however, and some of the most effective predatory ants are solitary hunters with powerful trap jaws [10]. Recent evolutionary studies predict that the early branching lineages of extant ants formed small colonies of ground-dwelling, solitary specialist predators [2, 5, 7, 11, 12], while some Cretaceous fossils suggest group recruitment and socially advanced behavior among stem-group ants [9]. We describe a trap-jaw ant from 99 million-year-old Burmese amber with head structures that presumably functioned as a highly specialized trap for large-bodied prey. These are a cephalic horn resulting from an extreme modification of the clypeus hitherto unseen among living and extinct ants and scythe-like mandibles that extend high above the head, both demonstrating the presence of exaggerated morphogenesis early among stem-group ants. The new ant belongs to the Haidomyrmecini, possibly the earliest ant lineage [9], and together these trap-jaw ants suggest that at least some of the earliest Formicidae were solitary specialist predators. With their peculiar adaptations, haidomyrmecines had a refined ecology shortly following the advent of ants. PMID:27238278

  5. Comparative Study of Nest Architecture and Colony Structure of the Fungus-Growing Ants, Mycocepurus goeldii and M. smithii

    PubMed Central

    Rabeling, C.; Verhaagh, M.; Engels, W.

    2007-01-01

    Nest architecture and demography of the non leaf-cutting fungus-growing ant species Mycocepurus goeldii and M. smithii (Attini: Formicidae) were studied in an agroforest habitat near Manaus, Brazil during the excavation of 13 nests. Both species built their nests in two different ways. The first type possessed a “tree-like” architecture, in which a vertical tunnel led downwards and lateral tunnels branched off at 90° angles from the main tunnel, with a chamber at the end of each side branch. Alternatively, other nests displayed a “necklace-like” architecture, where the main tunnel also led down vertically, but entered each chamber from the top and exited it at the bottom, resulting in an architecture where chambers appeared like pearls on a necklace. The nest systems of M. goeldii and M. smithii consisted of 1–21 or 1–15 chambers, respectively. Of 199 excavated chambers, 57 % contained fungus-gardens. Chambers not containing fungus gardens were filled with organic matter from decaying fungus gardens or earthworm feces. Only M. smithii workers deposited loose soil in abandoned chambers during the construction of new nest chambers. Workers of M. smithii constructed significantly smaller chambers than those of M. goeldii. In both species, fungus garden-containing chambers were larger than non-garden chambers and were homogenously distributed in the soil between 17 cm and 105 cm depth. Neither fungus gardens nor abandoned chambers were encountered more frequently in deeper or shallower soil strata indicating that ants of both species did not abandon shallower versus deeper chambers, or move the colony to deeper soil layers with increasing colony age. Fungus gardens were suspended from the ceiling of the subterranean chambers and originated as small mycelial tufts. Through continual addition of organic debris, the tufts first grew vertically to strands before they expanded laterally until most of the chamber volume was filled with fungus garden curtains

  6. Comparative study of nest architecture and colony structure of the fungus-growing ants, Mycocepurus goeldii and M. smithii.

    PubMed

    Rabeling, C; Verhaagh, M; Engels, W

    2007-01-01

    Nest architecture and demography of the non leaf-cutting fungus-growing ant species Mycocepurus goeldii and M. smithii (Attini: Formicidae) were studied in an agroforest habitat near Manaus, Brazil during the excavation of 13 nests. Both species built their nests in two different ways. The first type possessed a "tree-like" architecture, in which a vertical tunnel led downwards and lateral tunnels branched off at 90 degrees angles from the main tunnel, with a chamber at the end of each side branch. Alternatively, other nests displayed a "necklace-like" architecture, where the main tunnel also led down vertically, but entered each chamber from the top and exited it at the bottom, resulting in an architecture where chambers appeared like pearls on a necklace. The nest systems of M. goeldii and M. smithii consisted of 1-21 or 1-15 chambers, respectively. Of 199 excavated chambers, 57 % contained fungus-gardens. Chambers not containing fungus gardens were filled with organic matter from decaying fungus gardens or earthworm feces. Only M. smithii workers deposited loose soil in abandoned chambers during the construction of new nest chambers. Workers of M. smithii constructed significantly smaller chambers than those of M. goeldii. In both species, fungus garden-containing chambers were larger than non-garden chambers and were homogenously distributed in the soil between 17 cm and 105 cm depth. Neither fungus gardens nor abandoned chambers were encountered more frequently in deeper or shallower soil strata indicating that ants of both species did not abandon shallower versus deeper chambers, or move the colony to deeper soil layers with increasing colony age. Fungus gardens were suspended from the ceiling of the subterranean chambers and originated as small mycelial tufts. Through continual addition of organic debris, the tufts first grew vertically to strands before they expanded laterally until most of the chamber volume was filled with fungus garden curtains. New

  7. Serotonin depresses feeding behaviour in ants.

    PubMed

    Falibene, Agustina; Rössler, Wolfgang; Josens, Roxana

    2012-01-01

    Feeding behaviour is a complex functional system that relies on external signals and the physiological state of the animal. This is also the case in ants as they vary their feeding behaviour according to food characteristics, environmental conditions and - as they are social insects - to the colony's requirements. The biogenic amine serotonin (5-HT) was shown to be involved in the control and modulation of many actions and processes related to feeding in both vertebrates and invertebrates. In this study, we investigated whether 5-HT affects nectar feeding in ants by analysing its effect on the sucking-pump activity. Furthermore, we studied 5-HT association with tissues and neuronal ganglia involved in feeding regulation. Our results show that 5-HT promotes a dose-dependent depression of sucrose feeding in Camponotus mus ants. Orally administered 5-HT diminished the intake rate by mainly decreasing the volume of solution taken per pump contraction, without modifying the sucrose acceptance threshold. Immunohistochemical studies all along the alimentary canal revealed 5-HT-like immunoreactive processes on the foregut (oesophagus, crop and proventriculus), while the midgut and hindgut lacked 5-HT innervation. Although the frontal and suboesophageal ganglia contained 5-HT immunoreactive cell bodies, serotonergic innervation in the sucking-pump muscles was absent. The results are discussed in the frame of a role of 5-HT in feeding control in ants.

  8. Operant conditioning in the ant Myrmica sabuleti.

    PubMed

    Cammaerts, M C

    2004-11-30

    Operant conditioning could be obtained in the ant Myrmica sabuleti by presenting to the workers, during a six-day period, an apparatus containing either sugared water or meat as a reward. The conditioning obtained using sugared water as a reward was short lasting. A reconditioning was more persistent and lasted four hours. The ants' response was very precise, since they exhibited it only in front of an apparatus identical to that used during the training phase. Operant conditioning obtained using meat as a reward was more pronounced than that obtained by using sugared water, probably because meat is more valuable as a reward than sugar for the species studied, which is essentially a carnivorous one. Such a conditioning was rather persistent. Indeed, a first operant conditioning obtained by using meat as a reward could still be detected after seven hours, and a reconditioning was still significant after eight hours. One day after this eight-hour period without rewarding the ants, the response was higher again and a further day later, it was still significant. Since the operant conditioning is easy to perform and quantify and since the ants' response is very precise, such a conditioning can be used for further studying M. sabuleti workers' visual perception.

  9. How do ants stick out their tongues?

    PubMed

    Paul, Jürgen; Roces, Flavio; Hölldobler, Bert

    2002-10-01

    The mouthparts are very important tools for almost any task performed by ants. In particular, the labiomaxillary complex is essential for food intake. In the present study we investigated the anatomical design of the labiomaxillary complex in various ant species, focusing on movement mechanisms. Six labial and six maxillary muscles with different functions control the several joints and ensure the proper performance of the labiomaxillary complex. According to our measurements of sarcomere lengths, muscle fiber lengths and diameters, and the relative muscle volumes, the labial and maxillary muscles feature rather slow than fast muscle characteristics and do not seem to be specialized for specific tasks. Since glossa protractor muscles are absent, the protraction of the glossa, the distal end of the labium, is a nonmuscular movement. By histological measurements of hemolymph volumes we could exclude a pressure-driven mechanism. Additional experiments showed that, upon relaxation of the glossa retractor muscles, the glossa protracts elastically. This elastic mechanism possibly sets an upper limit to licking frequency, thus influencing food intake rates and ultimately foraging behavior. In contrast to many other elastic mechanisms among arthropods, glossa protraction in ants is based on a mechanism where elasticity works as an actual antagonist to muscles. We compared the design of the labiomaxillary complex of ants with that of the honeybee and suggest an elastic mechanism for glossa protraction in honeybees as well.

  10. Ants recognize foes and not friends.

    PubMed

    Guerrieri, Fernando J; Nehring, Volker; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; Galizia, C Giovanni; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2009-07-01

    Discriminating among individuals and rejecting non-group members is essential for the evolution and stability of animal societies. Ants are good models for studying recognition mechanisms, because they are typically very efficient in discriminating 'friends' (nest-mates) from 'foes' (non-nest-mates). Recognition in ants involves multicomponent cues encoded in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles. Here, we tested whether workers of the carpenter ant Camponotus herculeanus use the presence and/or absence of cuticular hydrocarbons to discriminate between nest-mates and non-nest-mates. We supplemented the cuticular profile with synthetic hydrocarbons mixed to liquid food and then assessed behavioural responses using two different bioassays. Our results show that (i) the presence, but not the absence, of an additional hydrocarbon elicited aggression and that (ii) among the three classes of hydrocarbons tested (unbranched, mono-methylated and dimethylated alkanes; for mono-methylated alkanes, we present a new synthetic pathway), only the dimethylated alkane was effective in eliciting aggression. Our results suggest that carpenter ants use a fundamentally different mechanism for nest-mate recognition than previously thought. They do not specifically recognize nest-mates, but rather recognize and reject non-nest-mates bearing odour cues that are novel to their own colony cuticular hydrocarbon profile. This begs for a reappraisal of the mechanisms underlying recognition systems in social insects.

  11. The Kanizsa triangle illusion in foraging ants.

    PubMed

    Sakiyama, Tomoko; Gunji, Yukio-Pegio

    2016-01-01

    The Kanizsa triangle, wherein three Pac-Man configurations symmetrically face inwards, is a well-known illusion. By exposing foraging ants (Lasius niger) to Kanizsa-shaped honeydew solutions, we studied the origin of this illusion. More specifically, we examined whether foraging ants showed different movement reactions to local honeydew patterns formed by nestmates. This novel phenomenon could serve as an abstract model of the Kanizsa triangle illusion under the assumption that such an illusion could arise through the sum of each agent's limited global cognitions, because each agent could not perceive the entire subjective contours. Even a subjective consciousness consists of some parts which have no identical perception and could be an illusion. We succeeded in inducing foragers to move along the sides of a Kanizsa triangle when Pac-Man-shaped inducers were introduced. Furthermore, foragers appeared to form Y-shaped trajectories when dot-shaped or inverse Kanizsa inducers were used. Based on our findings, we propose an agent-based ant model that compares modelled behaviour with experimental phenomena. Our abstract model could be used to explain such cognitive phenomena for bottom-up processes, because ants cannot perceive the given subjective contours, instead simply move along the edges. PMID:26930477

  12. Ants recognize foes and not friends.

    PubMed

    Guerrieri, Fernando J; Nehring, Volker; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; Galizia, C Giovanni; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2009-07-01

    Discriminating among individuals and rejecting non-group members is essential for the evolution and stability of animal societies. Ants are good models for studying recognition mechanisms, because they are typically very efficient in discriminating 'friends' (nest-mates) from 'foes' (non-nest-mates). Recognition in ants involves multicomponent cues encoded in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles. Here, we tested whether workers of the carpenter ant Camponotus herculeanus use the presence and/or absence of cuticular hydrocarbons to discriminate between nest-mates and non-nest-mates. We supplemented the cuticular profile with synthetic hydrocarbons mixed to liquid food and then assessed behavioural responses using two different bioassays. Our results show that (i) the presence, but not the absence, of an additional hydrocarbon elicited aggression and that (ii) among the three classes of hydrocarbons tested (unbranched, mono-methylated and dimethylated alkanes; for mono-methylated alkanes, we present a new synthetic pathway), only the dimethylated alkane was effective in eliciting aggression. Our results suggest that carpenter ants use a fundamentally different mechanism for nest-mate recognition than previously thought. They do not specifically recognize nest-mates, but rather recognize and reject non-nest-mates bearing odour cues that are novel to their own colony cuticular hydrocarbon profile. This begs for a reappraisal of the mechanisms underlying recognition systems in social insects. PMID:19364750

  13. Calibration of vector navigation in desert ants.

    PubMed

    Collett, M; Collett, T S; Wehner, R

    1999-09-23

    Desert ants (Cataglyphis sp.) monitor their position relative to the nest using a form of dead reckoning [1] [2] [3] known as path integration (PI) [4]. They do this with a sun compass and an odometer to update an accumulator that records their current position [1]. Ants can use PI to return to the nest [2] [3]. Here, we report that desert ants, like honeybees [5] and hamsters [6], can also use PI to approach a previously visited food source. To navigate to a goal using only PI information, a forager must recall a previous state of the accumulator specifying the goal, and compare it with the accumulator's current state [4]. The comparison - essentially vector subtraction - gives the direction to the goal. This whole process, which we call vector navigation, was found to be calibrated at recognised sites, such as the nest and a familiar feeder, throughout the life of a forager. If a forager was trained around a one-way circuit in which the result of PI on the return route did not match the result on the outward route, calibration caused the ant's trajectories to be misdirected. We propose a model of vector navigation to suggest how calibration could produce such trajectories.

  14. Ant species identity mediates reproductive traits and allocation in an ant-garden bromeliad

    PubMed Central

    Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Carrias, Jean-François; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2012-01-01

    Background and Aims Determining the sources of variation in floral morphology is crucial to understanding the mechanisms underlying Angiosperm evolution. The selection of floral and reproductive traits is influenced by the plant's abiotic environment, florivores and pollinators. However, evidence that variations in floral traits result from mutualistic interactions with insects other than pollinators is lacking in the published literature and has rarely been investigated. We aimed to determine whether the association with either Camponotus femoratus or Pachycondyla goeldii (both involved in seed dispersal and plant protection) mediates the reproductive traits and allocation of Aechmea mertensii, an obligatory ant-garden tank-bromeliad, differently. Methods Floral and reproductive traits were compared between the two A. mertensii ant-gardens. The nitrogen flux from the ants to the bromeliads was investigated through experimental enrichments with stable isotopes (15N). Key Results Camponotus femoratus-associated bromeliads produced inflorescences up to four times longer than did P. goeldii-associated bromeliads. Also, the numbers of flowers and fruits were close to four times higher, and the number of seeds and their mass per fruit were close to 1·5 times higher in C. femoratus than in P. goeldii-associated bromeliads. Furthermore, the 15N-enrichment experiment showed that C. femoratus-associated bromeliads received more nitrogen from ants than did P. goeldii-associated bromeliads, with subsequent positive repercussions on floral development. Greater benefits were conferred to A. mertensii by the association with C. femoratus compared with P. goeldii ants. Conclusions We show for the first time that mutualistic associations with ants can result in an enhanced reproductive allocation for the bromeliad A. mertensii. Nevertheless, the strength and direction of the selection of floral and fruit traits change based on the ant species and were not related to light

  15. Can the Argentine ant ( Linepithema humile Mayr) replace native ants in myrmecochory?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gómez, Crisanto; Oliveras, Jordi

    2003-04-01

    We analyse the influence of the Argentine ant ( Linepithema humile Mayr) on the seed dispersal process of the myrmecochorous plants Euphorbia characias, E. biumbellata, Genista linifolia, G. triflora, G. monspessulana and Sarothamnus arboreus. The observations were made in two study plots of Mediterranean cork-oak secondary forest (invaded and non-invaded by L. humile). The presence of L. humile implies the displacement of all native ant species that disperse seeds. Seed transports in the non-invaded zone were carried out by eight ant species. In the invaded zone, L. humile workers removed and transported seeds to the nest. In vertebrate exclusion trials, we observed the same level of seed removal in the invaded and non-invaded zones. Two findings could explain this result. Although mean time to seed localization was higher for native ants (431.7 s) than that for L. humile (150.5 s), the mean proportion of seeds transported after being detected was higher (50.1%) in non-invaded than in invaded (16.8%) zones. The proportion of seeds removed and transported into an ant nest after an ant-seed interaction had dramatically reduced from non-invaded (41.9%) to invaded (7.4%) zones. The levels of seed dispersal by ants found prior to invasion are unlikely to be maintained in invaded zones. However, total replacement of seed dispersal function is possible if contact iteration finally offers similar levels or quantities of seeds reaching the nests. The results obtained confirm that the Argentine ant invasion may affect myrmecochory dramatically in the Mediterranean biome.

  16. Dead ant walking: a myrmecophilous beetle predator uses parasitoid host location cues to selectively prey on parasitized ants.

    PubMed

    Mathis, Kaitlyn A; Tsutsui, Neil D

    2016-08-17

    Myrmecophiles (i.e. organisms that associate with ants) use a variety of ecological niches and employ different strategies to survive encounters with ants. Because ants are typically excellent defenders, myrmecophiles may choose moments of weakness to take advantage of their ant associates. This hypothesis was studied in the rove beetle, Myrmedonota xipe, which associates with Azteca sericeasur ants in the presence of parasitoid flies. A combination of laboratory and field experiments show that M. xipe beetles selectively locate and prey upon parasitized ants. These parasitized ants are less aggressive towards beetles than healthy ants, allowing beetles to eat the parasitized ants alive without interruption. Moreover, behavioural assays and chemical analysis reveal that M. xipe are attracted to the ant's alarm pheromone, the same secretion used by the phorid fly parasitoids in host location. This strategy allows beetles access to an abundant but otherwise inaccessible resource, as A. sericeasur ants are typically highly aggressive. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a predator sharing cues with a parasitoid to gain access to an otherwise unavailable prey item. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of studying ant-myrmecophile interactions beyond just their pairwise context. PMID:27512148

  17. Dead ant walking: a myrmecophilous beetle predator uses parasitoid host location cues to selectively prey on parasitized ants.

    PubMed

    Mathis, Kaitlyn A; Tsutsui, Neil D

    2016-08-17

    Myrmecophiles (i.e. organisms that associate with ants) use a variety of ecological niches and employ different strategies to survive encounters with ants. Because ants are typically excellent defenders, myrmecophiles may choose moments of weakness to take advantage of their ant associates. This hypothesis was studied in the rove beetle, Myrmedonota xipe, which associates with Azteca sericeasur ants in the presence of parasitoid flies. A combination of laboratory and field experiments show that M. xipe beetles selectively locate and prey upon parasitized ants. These parasitized ants are less aggressive towards beetles than healthy ants, allowing beetles to eat the parasitized ants alive without interruption. Moreover, behavioural assays and chemical analysis reveal that M. xipe are attracted to the ant's alarm pheromone, the same secretion used by the phorid fly parasitoids in host location. This strategy allows beetles access to an abundant but otherwise inaccessible resource, as A. sericeasur ants are typically highly aggressive. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a predator sharing cues with a parasitoid to gain access to an otherwise unavailable prey item. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of studying ant-myrmecophile interactions beyond just their pairwise context.

  18. Microbiomes of ant castes implicate new microbial roles in the fungus-growing ant Trachymyrmex septentrionalis

    PubMed Central

    Ishak, Heather D.; Miller, Jessica L.; Sen, Ruchira; Dowd, Scot E.; Meyer, Eli; Mueller, Ulrich G.

    2011-01-01

    Fungus-growing ants employ several defenses against diseases, including disease-suppressing microbial biofilms on their integument and in fungal gardens. Here, we compare the phenology of microbiomes in natural nests of the temperate fungus-growing ant Trachymyrmex septentrionalis using culture-dependent isolations and culture-independent 16S-amplicon 454-sequencing. 454-sequencing revealed diverse actinobacteria associated with ants, including most prominently Solirubrobacter (12.2–30.9% of sequence reads), Pseudonocardia (3.5–42.0%), and Microlunatus (0.4–10.8%). Bacterial abundances remained relatively constant in monthly surveys throughout the annual active period (late winter to late summer), except Pseudonocardia abundance declined in females during the reproductive phase. Pseudonocardia species found on ants are phylogenetically different from those in gardens and soil, indicating ecological separation of these Pseudonocardia types. Because the pathogen Escovopsis is not known to infect gardens of T. septentrionalis, the ant-associated microbes do not seem to function in Escovopsis suppression, but could protect against ant diseases, help in nest sanitation, or serve unknown functions. PMID:22355719

  19. Ant benefits in a seed dispersal mutualism.

    PubMed

    Gammans, Nicola; Bullock, James M; Schönrogge, Karsten

    2005-11-01

    Myrmecochorous plant seeds have nutrient rich appendages, elaiosomes, which induce some ant species to carry the seeds back to their nest where the elaiosome is consumed and the seed is discarded unharmed. The benefits to plants of dispersal of their seeds in this way have been well documented, but the benefits to the ants from consuming the elaiosomes have rarely been measured and are less clear. Ant benefits from myrmecochory were investigated in a laboratory experiment using the ant Myrmica ruginodis and seeds of Ulex species. To separate the effects of elaiosome consumption on the development of newly produced larvae versus existing larvae, ten 'Queenright' colonies containing a queen were compared to ten 'Queenless' colonies. Six measures of colony fitness over a complete annual cycle were taken: sexual production, larval weight and number, pupal weight and number, and worker survival. Queenless colonies fed with elaiosomes produced 100.0+/-29.3 (mean +/- SE) of larvae compared to non-elaiosome fed colonies which produced 49.6+/-19.0; an increase of 102%. Larval weight increased in both Queenright and Queenless colonies. In colonies fed with elaiosomes, larvae weighed 1.02+/-0.1 mg, but in non-elaiosome fed colonies larvae weighed 0.69+/-0.1 mg; an increase of 48%. The food supplement provided by Ulex elaiosomes was trivial in energetic terms, under the conditions of an ample diet, suggesting that these effects might be due to the presence of essential nutrients. Chemical analysis of Ulex elaiosomes showed the presence of four essential fatty acids and four essential sterols for ants. PMID:16049717

  20. The Pied Piper: A Parasitic Beetle's Melodies Modulate Ant Behaviours.

    PubMed

    Di Giulio, Andrea; Maurizi, Emanuela; Barbero, Francesca; Sala, Marco; Fattorini, Simone; Balletto, Emilio; Bonelli, Simona

    2015-01-01

    Ants use various communication channels to regulate their social organisation. The main channel that drives almost all the ants' activities and behaviours is the chemical one, but it is long acknowledged that the acoustic channel also plays an important role. However, very little is known regarding exploitation of the acoustical channel by myrmecophile parasites to infiltrate the ant society. Among social parasites, the ant nest beetles (Paussus) are obligate myrmecophiles able to move throughout the colony at will and prey on the ants, surprisingly never eliciting aggression from the colonies. It has been recently postulated that stridulatory organs in Paussus might be evolved as an acoustic mechanism to interact with ants. Here, we survey the role of acoustic signals employed in the Paussus beetle-Pheidole ant system. Ants parasitised by Paussus beetles produce caste-specific stridulations. We found that Paussus can "speak" three different "languages", each similar to sounds produced by different ant castes (workers, soldiers, queen). Playback experiments were used to test how host ants respond to the sounds emitted by Paussus. Our data suggest that, by mimicking the stridulations of the queen, Paussus is able to dupe the workers of its host and to be treated as royalty. This is the first report of acoustic mimicry in a beetle parasite of ants. PMID:26154266

  1. Landmark guidance and vector navigation in outbound desert ants.

    PubMed

    Merkle, Tobias; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2008-11-01

    This study deals with the influence landmark information has on the foraging behaviour of the desert ant, Cataglyphis fortis, especially with the interaction of such landmark information with the ants' path integration system. We show in the first experiment that desert ants that are captured immediately after leaving their nest and then transferred to a remote test area search for the nest rather than activate their previous path integration vector. In a second experiment, the ants had been trained to a landmark corridor on their way to the feeder. In the critical test situation, they were again captured immediately after they had left the nest and transferred to a test field where they faced one of the following three situations: (1) the same landmark corridor as used during the training phase, (2) no landmarks at all and (3) a landmark corridor rotated by 90 deg. as compared with the training situation. Nearly all ants in test situation (1) eventually followed the landmark corridor but most of them never reached the fictive feeder. In situation (2), the ants searched around the nest entrance. In situation (3), approximately one half of the ants searched for the nest, whereas most of the other ants followed the landmark corridor, i.e. headed in a completely wrong direction. Hence, familiar landmarks do not only influence the foraging behaviour of desert ants, e.g. in making the ants start their foraging runs but can even out-compete the ants' path integration system.

  2. Exploring with PAM: Prospecting ANTS Missions for Solar System Surveys

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Clark, P. E.; Rilee, M. L.; Curtis, S. A.

    2003-01-01

    ANTS (Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm), a large (1000 member) swarm of nano to picoclass (10 to 1 kg) totally autonomous spacecraft, are being developed as a NASA advanced mission concept. ANTS, based on a hierarchical insect social order, use an evolvable, self-similar, hierarchical neural system in which individual spacecraft represent the highest level nodes. ANTS uses swarm intelligence attained through collective, cooperative interactions of the nodes at all levels of the system. At the highest levels this can take the form of cooperative, collective behavior among the individual spacecraft in a very large constellation. The ANTS neural architecture is designed for totally autonomous operation of complex systems including spacecraft constellations. The ANTS (Autonomous Nano Technology Swarm) concept has a number of possible applications. A version of ANTS designed for surveying and determining the resource potential of the asteroid belt, called PAM (Prospecting ANTS Mission), is examined here.

  3. Harvester ant bioassay for assessing hazardous chemical waste sites

    SciTech Connect

    Gano, K.A.; Carlile, D.W.; Rogers, L.E.

    1984-12-01

    A technique was developed for using harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex owhyeei, in terrestrial bioassays. Procedures were developed for maintaining stock populations, handling ants, and exposing ants to toxic materials. Relative toxicities were determined by exposing ants to 10 different materials. These materials included three insecticides, Endrin, Aldrin, and Dieldrin; one herbicide, 2,4-D; three oil-like compounds, wood preservative, drilling fluid, and slop oil; and three heavy metals, copper, zinc, and cadmium. Ants were exposed in petri dishes containing soil amended with a particular toxicant. Under these test conditions, ants showed no sensitivity to the metals or 2,4-D. Ants were sensitive to the insecticides and oils in repeated tests, and relative toxicity remained consistent throughout. Aldrin was the most toxic material, followed by Dieldrin, Endrin, wood preservative, drilling fluid, and slop oil. 10 refs., 2 figs., 2 tabs.

  4. Insect navigation: do ants live in the now?

    PubMed

    Graham, Paul; Mangan, Michael

    2015-03-01

    Visual navigation is a critical behaviour for many animals, and it has been particularly well studied in ants. Decades of ant navigation research have uncovered many ways in which efficient navigation can be implemented in small brains. For example, ants show us how visual information can drive navigation via procedural rather than map-like instructions. Two recent behavioural observations highlight interesting adaptive ways in which ants implement visual guidance. Firstly, it has been shown that the systematic nest searches of ants can be biased by recent experience of familiar scenes. Secondly, ants have been observed to show temporary periods of confusion when asked to repeat a route segment, even if that route segment is very familiar. Taken together, these results indicate that the navigational decisions of ants take into account their recent experiences as well as the currently perceived environment.

  5. Fast and Flexible: Argentine Ants Recruit from Nearby Trails

    PubMed Central

    Flanagan, Tatiana P.; Pinter-Wollman, Noa M.; Moses, Melanie E.; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2013-01-01

    Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) live in groups of nests connected by trails to each other and to stable food sources. In a field study, we investigated whether some ants recruit directly from established, persistent trails to food sources, thus accelerating food collection. Our results indicate that Argentine ants recruit nestmates to food directly from persistent trails, and that the exponential increase in the arrival rate of ants at baits is faster than would be possible if recruited ants traveled from distant nests. Once ants find a new food source, they walk back and forth between the bait and sometimes share food by trophallaxis with nestmates on the trail. Recruiting ants from nearby persistent trails creates a dynamic circuit, like those found in other distributed systems, which facilitates a quick response to changes in available resources. PMID:23967129

  6. Red legs and golden gasters: Batesian mimicry in Australian ants.

    PubMed

    Merrill, D N; Elgar, M A

    2000-05-01

    There are numerous reports of invertebrates that are visual mimics of ants, but no formal reports of mimicry of an ant, by an ant. Two endemic Australian ants, Myrmecia fulvipes and Camponotus bendigensis are remarkably similar in colour and size; both are generally black but have red legs and golden gasters. The density and hue of the pubescence of each ant's gaster are relatively uncommon in ants, but are very rare when combined with the black forebody and red legs. The ants are similarly sized but are smaller than other species closely related to M. fulvipes. The range of C. bendigensis lies entirely within that of M. fulvipes, and both species excavate ground nests in open woodland. Finally, workers of both species are crepuscular and forage solitarily. These data suggest that the relatively benign formicine C. bendigensis is a Batesian mimic of the formidable myrmeciine M. fulvipes.

  7. Extrafloral nectar content alters foraging preferences of a predatory ant.

    PubMed

    Wilder, Shawn M; Eubanks, Micky D

    2010-04-23

    We tested whether the carbohydrate and amino acid content of extrafloral nectar affected prey choice by a predatory ant. Fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, were provided with artificial nectar that varied in the presence of carbohydrates and amino acids and were then provided with two prey items that differed in nutritional content, female and male crickets. Colonies of fire ants provided with carbohydrate supplements consumed less of the female crickets and frequently did not consume the high-lipid ovaries of female crickets. Colonies of fire ants provided with amino acid supplements consumed less of the male crickets. While a number of studies have shown that the presence of extrafloral nectar or honeydew can affect ant foraging activity, these results suggest that the nutritional composition of extrafloral nectar is also important and can affect subsequent prey choice by predatory ants. Our results suggest that, by altering the composition of extrafloral nectar, plants could manipulate the prey preferences of ants foraging on them.

  8. Size matters: nest colonization patterns for twig-nesting ants.

    PubMed

    Jiménez-Soto, Estelí; Philpott, Stacy M

    2015-08-01

    Understanding the drivers of ant diversity and co-occurrence in agroecosystems is fundamental because ants participate in interactions that influence agroecosystem processes. Multiple local and regional factors influence ant community assembly.We examined local factors that influence the structure of a twig-nesting ant community in a coffee system in Mexico using an experimental approach. We investigated whether twig characteristics (nest entrance size and diversity of nest entrance sizes) and nest strata (canopy shade tree or coffee shrub) affected occupation, species richness, and community composition of twig-nesting ants and whether frequency of occupation of ant species varied with particular nest entrance sizes or strata.We conducted our study in a shaded coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico, between March and June 2012. We studied ant nest colonization by placing artificial nests (bamboo twigs) on coffee shrubs and shade trees either in diverse or uniform treatments. We also examined whether differences in vegetation (no. of trees, canopy cover and coffee density) influenced nest colonization.We found 33 ant species occupying 73% of nests placed. Nest colonization did not differ with nest strata or size. Mean species richness of colonizing ants was significantly higher in the diverse nest size entrance treatment, but did not differ with nest strata. Community composition differed between strata and also between the diverse and uniform size treatments on coffee shrubs, but not on shade trees. Some individual ant species were more frequently found in certain nest strata and in nests with certain entrance sizes.Our results indicate that twig-nesting ants are nest-site limited, quickly occupy artificial nests of many sizes, and that trees or shrubs with twigs of a diversity of entrance sizes likely support higher ant species richness. Further, individual ant species more frequently occupy nests with different sized entrances promoting ant richness on individual coffee

  9. Size matters: nest colonization patterns for twig-nesting ants

    PubMed Central

    Jiménez-Soto, Estelí; Philpott, Stacy M

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the drivers of ant diversity and co-occurrence in agroecosystems is fundamental because ants participate in interactions that influence agroecosystem processes. Multiple local and regional factors influence ant community assembly. We examined local factors that influence the structure of a twig-nesting ant community in a coffee system in Mexico using an experimental approach. We investigated whether twig characteristics (nest entrance size and diversity of nest entrance sizes) and nest strata (canopy shade tree or coffee shrub) affected occupation, species richness, and community composition of twig-nesting ants and whether frequency of occupation of ant species varied with particular nest entrance sizes or strata. We conducted our study in a shaded coffee farm in Chiapas, Mexico, between March and June 2012. We studied ant nest colonization by placing artificial nests (bamboo twigs) on coffee shrubs and shade trees either in diverse or uniform treatments. We also examined whether differences in vegetation (no. of trees, canopy cover and coffee density) influenced nest colonization. We found 33 ant species occupying 73% of nests placed. Nest colonization did not differ with nest strata or size. Mean species richness of colonizing ants was significantly higher in the diverse nest size entrance treatment, but did not differ with nest strata. Community composition differed between strata and also between the diverse and uniform size treatments on coffee shrubs, but not on shade trees. Some individual ant species were more frequently found in certain nest strata and in nests with certain entrance sizes. Our results indicate that twig-nesting ants are nest-site limited, quickly occupy artificial nests of many sizes, and that trees or shrubs with twigs of a diversity of entrance sizes likely support higher ant species richness. Further, individual ant species more frequently occupy nests with different sized entrances promoting ant richness on individual

  10. Bioturbation by Fire Ants in the Coastal Prairie of Texas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cameron, G.; Williams, L.

    2001-12-01

    Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) were introduced to the US in the early part of the last century. They have spread throughout the southeastern US in the absence of native competitors and predators with a range limited by abiotic factors. Each fire ant mound contains thousands of individuals, can be large, and can be numerous enough to comprise a dominant feature of the landscape. Studies of this species have focused upon its spread, formation of single- and multiple-queen colonies, genetic structure, and impact on native fauna and human health. Some studies have analyzed native fire ant-soil interactions, but few studies have examined the process of bioturbation by introduced fire ants in native ecosystems. Fire ants on the coastal prairie of Texas primarily are of the multiple-queen type that exhibit a much higher density of mounds than the single-queen type. Consequently, mound-building activities by fire ants can have a marked effect upon soil structure and nutrient content and may affect soil organisms and plants. Fire ant activity, mound density, mound dispersion, soil texture, soil permeability, soil moisture content, and soil nutrients were measured. Fire ants mounds are visible aboveground from April-November. Density of mounds was 117-738/ha, and average mound lifespan was 3.6 months with only 9% of the mounds remaining active throughout the entire season. Mounds were dispersed randomly. Foraging activity by fire ants was from June through October with a peak in July. Annual soil turnover was estimated by collecting and weighing mounds. There was no effect of ant mounds on soil texture, but water infiltration was higher in areas with ant mounds. Early-season samples showed no nutrient differences, but late-season samples showed that ant mounds contained higher amounts of micronutrients than random samples of soil. These data are compared to similar data on effects of mounds from native ants and from native and introduced ants in different habitats.

  11. Field tests of interspecific competition in ant assemblages: revisiting the dominant red wood ants.

    PubMed

    Gibb, Heloise; Johansson, Therese

    2011-05-01

    1. There has been considerable debate on the importance of competition in ecological communities, but its importance in structuring ant assemblages has often been uncritically accepted. Here, we briefly review field experiments examining competition in ant assemblages and use a removal experiment to test the effect of the classical territorial dominant ant, Formica aquilonia. Ants of this species group are thought to structure communities through a dominance hierarchy. 2. First, we used pitfall traps to compare the abundance of other ants in replicated sites with low and high densities of F. aquilonia. We found differences in community composition, in particular, Camponotus herculeanus was more common in low-density sites, in accordance with predictions. Differences in ant assemblages were not owing to differences in measured habitat variables. 3. We removed F. aquilonia from a set of high-density sites, using physical and chemical methods, and repeated these procedures at procedural control sites. One year after removal, abundances of F. aquilonia at removal sites were similar to those at low-density sites. However, the composition of other species did not change in response to F. aquilonia removal. Replication rates were identical in the mensurative and experimental components of this study, so this is unlikely to be owing to the analysis being insufficiently powerful. 4. We suggest three possibilities for the lack of difference. First, the study may have been too short term or small scale to detect differences. However, previous studies have shown effects on smaller spatial- and temporal-scales. Second, priority effects may be important in the successful colonisation by F. aquilonia. Thirdly, boreal ant assemblages may be too depauperate for redundancy in ecological roles and for competition to play an important structuring role. 5. We thus recommend that long-term large-scale experiments be considered essential if we are to distinguish between competing

  12. Forest edges and fire ants alter the seed shadow of an ant-dispersed plant.

    PubMed

    Ness, J H

    2004-02-01

    Exotic species invade fragmented, edge-rich habitats readily, yet the distinct impacts of habitat edges and invaders on native biota are rarely distinguished. Both appear detrimental to ant-dispersed plants such as bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis. Working in northeastern Georgia (USA), an area characterized by a rich ant-dispersed flora, fragmented forests, and invasions by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, I monitored the interactions between ants and S. canadensis seeds in uninvaded forest interiors, uninvaded forest edges, invaded forest interiors, and invaded forest edges. I observed 95% of the seed dispersal events that occurred within the 60-min observation intervals. Seed collection rates were similar among all four (habitat x invasion) groups. The presence of invasive ants had a strong effect on seed dispersal distance: S. invicta collected most seeds in invaded sites, but was a poorer disperser than four of five native ant taxa. Habitat type (interior versus edge) had no effect on seed dispersal distance, but it had a strong effect on seed dispersal direction. Dispersal towards the edge was disproportionately rare in uninvaded forest edges, and ants in those habitats moved the average dispersed seed approximately 70 cm away from that edge. Dispersal direction was also skewed away from the edge in uninvaded forest interiors and invaded forest edges, albeit non-significantly. This biased dispersal may help explain the rarity of myrmecochorous plants in younger forests and edges, and their poor ability to disperse between fragments. This is the first demonstration that forest edges and S. invicta invasion influence seed dispersal destination and distance, respectively. These forces act independently.

  13. Optic disc detection using ant colony optimization

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dias, Marcy A.; Monteiro, Fernando C.

    2012-09-01

    The retinal fundus images are used in the treatment and diagnosis of several eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. This paper proposes a new method to detect the optic disc (OD) automatically, due to the fact that the knowledge of the OD location is essential to the automatic analysis of retinal images. Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) is an optimization algorithm inspired by the foraging behaviour of some ant species that has been applied in image processing for edge detection. Recently, the ACO was used in fundus images to detect edges, and therefore, to segment the OD and other anatomical retinal structures. We present an algorithm for the detection of OD in the retina which takes advantage of the Gabor wavelet transform, entropy and ACO algorithm. Forty images of the retina from DRIVE database were used to evaluate the performance of our method.

  14. Lithiase géante sur enterocystoplastie

    PubMed Central

    Elmortaji, Khalid; Elomri, Ghassane; Bennani, Saad; Rabii, Redouane; Aboutaib, Rachid; Meziane, Fethi

    2014-01-01

    La formation des lithiases est une complication fréquente des entérocystoplasties après cystectomie radicale pour tumeur de vessie infiltrante. Le délai d'apparition dépend des facteurs de risque favorisants notamment les infections urinaires. Néanmoins la survenue de lithiase géante sur néovessie reste exceptionnelle, seulement 5 cas ont été rapportés dans la littérature. Nous rapportons dans ce travail, le cas d'une lithiase géante compliquant une entérocystoplastie chez un malade suivi pour tumeur de vessie infiltrante. PMID:25932070

  15. Ant-Man and the quantum realm

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Michalakis, Spiros

    2015-11-01

    I was in Los Angeles airport, stuffing French fries into my mouth and waiting for a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, when my phone buzzed. The e-mail was from the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a non-profit organization working to elevate the level of science in the movies, and it told me to report to Atlanta to consult on a new superhero movie: Ant-Man.

  16. Ant colony optimization and stochastic gradient descent.

    PubMed

    Meuleau, Nicolas; Dorigo, Marco

    2002-01-01

    In this article, we study the relationship between the two techniques known as ant colony optimization (ACO) and stochastic gradient descent. More precisely, we show that some empirical ACO algorithms approximate stochastic gradient descent in the space of pheromones, and we propose an implementation of stochastic gradient descent that belongs to the family of ACO algorithms. We then use this insight to explore the mutual contributions of the two techniques. PMID:12171633

  17. Ant fat extraction with a Soxhlet extractor.

    PubMed

    Smith, Chris R; Tschinkel, Walter R

    2009-07-01

    Stored fat can be informative about the relative age of an ant, its nutritional status, and the nutritional status of the colony. Several methods are available for the quantification of stored fat. Before starting a project involving fat extraction, investigators should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different methods in order to choose the one that is best suited to the question being addressed. This protocol, although not as accurate as some alternatives, facilitates the rapid quantification of many individuals. PMID:20147208

  18. Biodiversity below ground: probing the subterranean ant fauna of Amazonia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ryder Wilkie, Kari T.; Mertl, Amy L.; Traniello, James F. A.

    2007-09-01

    Ants are abundant, diverse, and ecologically dominant in tropical forests. Subterranean ants in particular are thought to have a significant environmental impact, although difficulties associated with collecting ants underground and examining their ecology and behavior have limited research. In this paper, we present the results of a study of subterranean ant diversity in Amazonian Ecuador that employs a novel probe to facilitate the discovery of species inhabiting the soil horizon. Forty-seven species of ants in 19 genera, including new and apparently rare species, were collected in probes. Approximately 19% of the species collected at different depths in the soil were unique to probe samples. Analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) results showed that the species composition of ants collected with the probe was significantly different from samples collected using other techniques. Additionally, ANOSIM computations indicated the species assemblage of ants collected 12.5 cm below the surface was significantly different from those found at 25, 37.5, and 50 cm. Ant diversity and species accumulation rates decreased with increasing depth. There were no species unique to the lowest depths, suggesting that subterranean ants may not be distributed deep in the soil in Amazonia due to the high water table. The technique we describe could be used to gain new insights into the distribution and biology of subterranean ant species and other members of the species-rich soil invertebrate macrofauna.

  19. Biodiversity below ground: probing the subterranean ant fauna of Amazonia.

    PubMed

    Ryder Wilkie, Kari T; Mertl, Amy L; Traniello, James F A

    2007-09-01

    Ants are abundant, diverse, and ecologically dominant in tropical forests. Subterranean ants in particular are thought to have a significant environmental impact, although difficulties associated with collecting ants underground and examining their ecology and behavior have limited research. In this paper, we present the results of a study of subterranean ant diversity in Amazonian Ecuador that employs a novel probe to facilitate the discovery of species inhabiting the soil horizon. Forty-seven species of ants in 19 genera, including new and apparently rare species, were collected in probes. Approximately 19% of the species collected at different depths in the soil were unique to probe samples. Analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) results showed that the species composition of ants collected with the probe was significantly different from samples collected using other techniques. Additionally, ANOSIM computations indicated the species assemblage of ants collected 12.5 cm below the surface was significantly different from those found at 25, 37.5, and 50 cm. Ant diversity and species accumulation rates decreased with increasing depth. There were no species unique to the lowest depths, suggesting that subterranean ants may not be distributed deep in the soil in Amazonia due to the high water table. The technique we describe could be used to gain new insights into the distribution and biology of subterranean ant species and other members of the species-rich soil invertebrate macrofauna. PMID:17457552

  20. Homing abilities of the Australian intertidal ant Polyrhachis sokolova.

    PubMed

    Narendra, Ajay; Raderschall, Chloé A; Robson, Simon K A

    2013-10-01

    The pressure of returning to and locating the nest after a successful foraging trip is immense in ants. To find their way back home, ants use a number of different strategies (e.g. path integration, trail following) and rely on a range of cues (e.g. pattern of polarised skylight, landmark panorama) available in their environment. How ants weigh different cues has been a question of great interest and has primarily been addressed in the desert ants from Africa and Australia. We here identify the navigational abilities of an intertidal ant, Polyrhachis sokolova, that lives on mudflats where nests and foraging areas are frequently inundated with tidal water. We find that these solitary foraging ants rely heavily on visual landmark information for navigation, but they are also capable of path integration. By displacing ants with and without vector information at different locations within the local familiar territory, we created conflicts between information from the landmarks and information from the path integrator. The homing success of full-vector ants, compared with the zero-vector ants, when displaced 5 m behind the feeder, indicate that vector information had to be coupled with landmark information for successful homing. To explain the differences in the homing abilities of ants from different locations we determined the navigational information content at each release station and compared it with that available at the feeder location. We report here the interaction of multiple navigation strategies in the context of the information content in the environment.

  1. Carbohydrate regulation in relation to colony growth in ants.

    PubMed

    Dussutour, A; Simpson, S J

    2008-07-01

    Ants and all social insects are faced with a nutritional challenge: the food entering the colony is brought by only a small number of its workers but is shared among all members of the colony. In this study, we investigated how ants maintain carbohydrates supply at both a collective and an individual level in response to changes in the concentration of available sucrose solution, colony demography and larval growth. We manipulated the concentration of sugar solutions available to ant colonies (dilute, medium and concentrated solutions) over extended periods and measured the capacity of colonies to maintain sugar supply through compensatory feeding. First, we demonstrated that ants regulated carbohydrate intake at a collective and individual level. Initially, ants consumed most and recruited fastest in response to more concentrated than to dilute sugar solutions, but over time this pattern reversed, such that the number of ants that fed and the volume ingested by each ant was a negative function of sugar concentration in the diet. Second, we found that ants became better at regulating their carbohydrate intake with the production of larvae in the nest. When the number of larvae was experimentally doubled, the ants regulated their consumption of carbohydrates more accurately than when the number of adult workers was doubled, suggesting that larvae play an important role in providing nutritional feedback to workers. Finally, we showed that ants defended a carbohydrate ;intake target' by allowing them to select among sugar solutions of different concentration.

  2. Chemically armed mercenary ants protect fungus-farming societies.

    PubMed

    Adams, Rachelle M M; Liberti, Joanito; Illum, Anders A; Jones, Tappey H; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2013-09-24

    The ants are extraordinary in having evolved many lineages that exploit closely related ant societies as social parasites, but social parasitism by distantly related ants is rare. Here we document the interaction dynamics among a Sericomyrmex fungus-growing ant host, a permanently associated parasitic guest ant of the genus Megalomyrmex, and a raiding agro-predator of the genus Gnamptogenys. We show experimentally that the guest ants protect their host colonies against agro-predator raids using alkaloid venom that is much more potent than the biting defenses of the host ants. Relatively few guest ants are sufficient to kill raiders that invariably exterminate host nests without a cohabiting guest ant colony. We also show that the odor of guest ants discourages raider scouts from recruiting nestmates to host colonies. Our results imply that Sericomyrmex fungus-growers obtain a net benefit from their costly guest ants behaving as a functional soldier caste to meet lethal threats from agro-predator raiders. The fundamentally different life histories of the agro-predators and guest ants appear to facilitate their coexistence in a negative frequency-dependent manner. Because a guest ant colony is committed for life to a single host colony, the guests would harm their own interests by not defending the host that they continue to exploit. This conditional mutualism is analogous to chronic sickle cell anemia enhancing the resistance to malaria and to episodes in human history when mercenary city defenders offered either net benefits or imposed net costs, depending on the level of threat from invading armies.

  3. Predaceous ants, beach replenishment, and nest placement by sea turtles.

    PubMed

    Wetterer, James K; Wood, Lawrence D; Johnson, Chris; Krahe, Holly; Fitchett, Stephanie

    2007-10-01

    Ants known for attacking and killing hatchling birds and reptiles include the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren), tropical fire ant [Solenopsis geminata (Fabr.)], and little fire ant [Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger)]. We tested whether sea turtle nest placement influenced exposure to predaceous ants. In 2000 and 2001, we surveyed ants along a Florida beach where green turtles (Chelonia mydas L.), leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea Vandelli), and loggerheads (Caretta caretta L.) nest. Part of the beach was artificially replenished between our two surveys. As a result, mean beach width experienced by nesting turtles differed greatly between the two nesting seasons. We surveyed 1,548 sea turtle nests (2000: 909 nests; 2001: 639 nests) and found 22 ant species. S. invicta was by far the most common species (on 431 nests); S. geminata and W. auropunctata were uncommon (on 3 and 16 nests, respectively). In 2000, 62.5% of nests had ants present (35.9% with S. invicta), but in 2001, only 30.5% of the nests had ants present (16.4% with S. invicta). Turtle nests closer to dune vegetation had significantly greater exposure to ants. Differences in ant presence on turtle nests between years and among turtle species were closely related to differences in nest placement relative to dune vegetation. Beach replenishment significantly lowered exposure of nests to ants because on the wider beaches turtles nested farther from the dune vegetation. Selective pressures on nesting sea turtles are altered both by the presence of predaceous ants and the practice of beach replenishment.

  4. The effect of disturbance on an ant-plant mutualism.

    PubMed

    Piovia-Scott, Jonah

    2011-06-01

    Protective ant-plant mutualisms-where plants provide food or shelter to ants and ants protect the plants from herbivores-are a common feature in many ecological communities, but few studies have examined the effect of disturbance on these interactions. Disturbance may affect the relationship between plants and their associated ant mutualists by increasing the plants' susceptibility to herbivores, changing the amount of reward provided for the ants, and altering the abundance of ants and other predators. Pruning was used to simulate the damage to buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) caused by hurricanes. Pruned plants grew faster than unpruned plants, produced lower levels of physical anti-herbivore defenses (trichomes, toughness), and higher levels of chemical defenses (tannins) and extrafloral nectaries. Thus, simulated hurricane damage increased plant growth and the amount of reward provided to ant mutualists, but did not have consistent effects on other anti-herbivore defenses. Both herbivores and ants increased in abundance on pruned plants, indicating that the effects of simulated hurricane damage on plant traits were propagated to higher trophic levels. Ant-exclusion led to higher leaf damage on both pruned and upruned plants. The effect of ant-exclusion did not differ between pruned and unpruned plants, despite the fact that pruned plants had higher ant and herbivore densities, produced more extrafloral nectaries, and had fewer physical defenses. Another common predator, clubionid spiders, increased in abundance on pruned plants from which ants had been excluded. I suggest that compensatory predation by these spiders diminished the effect of ant-exclusion on pruned plants.

  5. Polydomy in the ant Ectatomma opaciventre.

    PubMed

    Tofolo, Viviane C; Giannotti, Edilberto; Neves, Erika F; Andrade, Luis H C; Lima, Sandro M; Súarez, Yzel R; Antonialli-Junior, William F

    2014-01-01

    Tropical ants commonly exhibit a hyper-dispersed pattern of spatial distribution of nests. In polydomous species, nests may be satellites, that is, secondary structures of the main nest, where the queen is found. In order to evaluate whether the ant Ectatomma opaciventre Roger (Formicidae: Ectatomminae) uses the strategy of building polydomous nests, the spatial distribution pattern of 33 nests in a 1,800 m(2) degraded area located in Rio Claro, SP, Brazil, were investigated using the nearest neighbor method. To complement the results of this investigation, the cuticular chemical profile of eight colonies was analyzed using Fourier transform infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy (FTIR-PAS). The nests of E. opaciventre presented a hyper-dispersed or regular distribution, which is the most common in ants. The analysis of the cuticular hydrocarbons apparently con-firmed the hypothesis that this species is polydomous, since the chemical profiles of all studied colonies with nests at different sites were very similar to the chemical signature of the single found queen and were also different from those of colonies used as control. PMID:25373168

  6. ANT tuner retrofit for LEB cavity

    SciTech Connect

    Walling, L.; Goren, Y.; Kwiatkowski, S.

    1994-03-01

    This report describes a ferrite tuner design for the LEB cavity that utilizes techniques for bonding ferrite to metallic cooling plates that is utilized in the high-power rf and microwave industry. A test tuner was designed to fit into the existing LEB-built magnet and onto the Grimm LEB Cavity. It will require a new vacuum window in order to attain maximal tuning range and high voltage capability and a new center conductor of longer length and a different vacuum window connection than the Grimm center conductor. However, the new center conductor will be essentially identical to the Grimm center conductor in its basic construction and in the way it connects to the stand for support. The tuner is mechanically very similar to high-power stacked circulators built by ANT of Germany and was designed according to ANT`s established engineering and design criteria and SSC LEB tuning and power requirements. The tuner design incorporates thin tiles of ferrite glued using a high-radiation-resistance epoxy to copper-plated stainless steel cooling plates of thickness 6.5 mm with water cooling channels inside the plates. The cooling plates constitute 16 pie-shaped segments arranged in a disk. They are electrically isolated from each other to suppress eddy currents. Five of these disks are arranged in parallel with high-pressure rf contacts between the plates at the outer radius. The end walls are slotted copper-plated stainless steel of thickness 3 mm.

  7. Polydomy in the ant Ectatomma opaciventre

    PubMed Central

    Tofolo, Viviane C.; Giannotti, Edilberto; Neves, Erika F.; Andrade, Luis H. C.; Lima, Sandro M.; Súarez, Yzel R.; Antonialli-Junior, William F.

    2014-01-01

    Tropical ants commonly exhibit a hyper-dispersed pattern of spatial distribution of nests. In polydomous species, nests may be satellites, that is, secondary structures of the main nest, where the queen is found. In order to evaluate whether the ant Ectatomma opaciventre Roger (Formicidae: Ectatomminae) uses the strategy of building polydomous nests, the spatial distribution pattern of 33 nests in a 1,800 m2 degraded area located in Rio Claro, SP, Brazil, were investigated using the nearest neighbor method. To complement the results of this investigation, the cuticular chemical profile of eight colonies was analyzed using Fourier transform infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy (FTIR-PAS). The nests of E. opaciventre presented a hyper-dispersed or regular distribution, which is the most common in ants. The analysis of the cuticular hydrocarbons apparently confirmed the hypothesis that this species is polydomous, since the chemical profiles of all studied colonies with nests at different sites were very similar to the chemical signature of the single found queen and were also different from those of colonies used as control. PMID:25373168

  8. Dispersal Polymorphisms in Invasive Fire Ants.

    PubMed

    Helms, Jackson A; Godfrey, Aaron

    2016-01-01

    In the Found or Fly (FoF) hypothesis ant queens experience reproduction-dispersal tradeoffs such that queens with heavier abdomens are better at founding colonies but are worse flyers. We tested predictions of FoF in two globally invasive fire ants, Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius, 1804) and S. invicta (Buren, 1972). Colonies of these species may produce two different monogyne queen types-claustral queens with heavy abdomens that found colonies independently, and parasitic queens with small abdomens that enter conspecific nests. Claustral and parasitic queens were similarly sized, but the abdomens of claustral queens weighed twice as much as those of their parasitic counterparts. Their heavier abdomens adversely impacted morphological predictors of flight ability, resulting in 32-38% lower flight muscle ratios, 55-63% higher wing loading, and 32-33% higher abdomen drag. In lab experiments maximum flight durations in claustral S. invicta queens decreased by about 18 minutes for every milligram of abdomen mass. Combining our results into a simple fitness tradeoff model, we calculated that an average parasitic S. invicta queen could produce only 1/3 as many worker offspring as a claustral queen, but could fly 4 times as long and have a 17- to 36-fold larger potential colonization area. Investigations of dispersal polymorphisms and their associated tradeoffs promises to shed light on range expansions in invasive species, the evolution of alternative reproductive strategies, and the selective forces driving the recurrent evolution of parasitism in ants.

  9. Kin-informative recognition cues in ants.

    PubMed

    Nehring, Volker; Evison, Sophie E F; Santorelli, Lorenzo A; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Hughes, William O H

    2011-07-01

    Although social groups are characterized by cooperation, they are also often the scene of conflict. In non-clonal systems, the reproductive interests of group members will differ and individuals may benefit by exploiting the cooperative efforts of other group members. However, such selfish behaviour is thought to be rare in one of the classic examples of cooperation--social insect colonies--because the colony-level costs of individual selfishness select against cues that would allow workers to recognize their closest relatives. In accord with this, previous studies of wasps and ants have found little or no kin information in recognition cues. Here, we test the hypothesis that social insects do not have kin-informative recognition cues by investigating the recognition cues and relatedness of workers from four colonies of the ant Acromyrmex octospinosus. Contrary to the theoretical prediction, we show that the cuticular hydrocarbons of ant workers in all four colonies are informative enough to allow full-sisters to be distinguished from half-sisters with a high accuracy. These results contradict the hypothesis of non-heritable recognition cues and suggest that there is more potential for within-colony conflicts in genetically diverse societies than previously thought.

  10. Dispersal Polymorphisms in Invasive Fire Ants.

    PubMed

    Helms, Jackson A; Godfrey, Aaron

    2016-01-01

    In the Found or Fly (FoF) hypothesis ant queens experience reproduction-dispersal tradeoffs such that queens with heavier abdomens are better at founding colonies but are worse flyers. We tested predictions of FoF in two globally invasive fire ants, Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius, 1804) and S. invicta (Buren, 1972). Colonies of these species may produce two different monogyne queen types-claustral queens with heavy abdomens that found colonies independently, and parasitic queens with small abdomens that enter conspecific nests. Claustral and parasitic queens were similarly sized, but the abdomens of claustral queens weighed twice as much as those of their parasitic counterparts. Their heavier abdomens adversely impacted morphological predictors of flight ability, resulting in 32-38% lower flight muscle ratios, 55-63% higher wing loading, and 32-33% higher abdomen drag. In lab experiments maximum flight durations in claustral S. invicta queens decreased by about 18 minutes for every milligram of abdomen mass. Combining our results into a simple fitness tradeoff model, we calculated that an average parasitic S. invicta queen could produce only 1/3 as many worker offspring as a claustral queen, but could fly 4 times as long and have a 17- to 36-fold larger potential colonization area. Investigations of dispersal polymorphisms and their associated tradeoffs promises to shed light on range expansions in invasive species, the evolution of alternative reproductive strategies, and the selective forces driving the recurrent evolution of parasitism in ants. PMID:27082115

  11. Polygyny and polyandry in small ant societies.

    PubMed

    Kellner, K; Trindl, A; Heinze, J; D'Ettorre, P

    2007-06-01

    Social insects, ants in particular, show considerable variation in queen number and mating frequency resulting in a wide range of social structures. The dynamics of reproductive conflicts in insect societies are directly connected to the colony kin structure, thus, the study of relatedness patterns is essential in order to understand the evolutionary resolution of these conflicts. We studied colony kin structure and mating frequencies in two closely related Neotropical ant species Pachycondyla inversa and Pachycondyla villosa. These represent interesting model systems because queens found new colonies cooperatively but, unlike many other ant species, they may still co-exist when the colony becomes mature (primary polygyny). By using five specific and highly variable microsatellite markers, we show that in both species queens usually mate with two or more males and that cofounding queens are always unrelated. Polygynous and polyandrous colonies are characterized by a high genetic diversity, with a mean relatedness coefficient among worker nestmates of 0.27 (+/- 0.03 SE) for P. inversa and 0.31 (+/- 0.05 SE) for P. villosa. However, relatedness among workers of the same matriline is high (0.60 +/- 0.03 in P. inversa, 0.62 +/- 0.08 in P. villosa) since males that mated with the same queen are on average closely related. Hence, we have found a new taxon in social Hymenoptera with high queen-mating frequencies and with intriguing mating and dispersal patterns of the sexuals. PMID:17561897

  12. Recognition of Social Identity in Ants

    PubMed Central

    Bos, Nick; d’Ettorre, Patrizia

    2012-01-01

    Recognizing the identity of others, from the individual to the group level, is a hallmark of society. Ants, and other social insects, have evolved advanced societies characterized by efficient social recognition systems. Colony identity is mediated by colony specific signature mixtures, a blend of hydrocarbons present on the cuticle of every individual (the “label”). Recognition occurs when an ant encounters another individual, and compares the label it perceives to an internal representation of its own colony odor (the “template”). A mismatch between label and template leads to rejection of the encountered individual. Although advances have been made in our understanding of how the label is produced and acquired, contradictory evidence exists about information processing of recognition cues. Here, we review the literature on template acquisition in ants and address how and when the template is formed, where in the nervous system it is localized, and the possible role of learning. We combine seemingly contradictory evidence in to a novel, parsimonious theory for the information processing of nestmate recognition cues. PMID:22461777

  13. Exploration versus exploitation in polydomous ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Cook, Zoe; Franks, Daniel W; Robinson, Elva J H

    2013-04-21

    In socially foraging species resource information can be shared between individuals, increasing foraging success. In ant colonies, nestmate recruitment allows high exploitation rates at known resources however, to maximise foraging efficiency this must be balanced with searching for new resources. Many ant species form colonies inhabiting two or more spatially separated but socially connected nests: this type of organisation is known as polydomy. Polydomous colonies may benefit from increased foraging efficiency by carrying out dispersed-central place foraging. However, decentralisation of the colony may affect recruitment success by limiting interaction between ants based in separate nests. We use an agent-based model which compares the foraging success of monodomous and polydomous colonies in different food environments, incorporating recruitment through pheromone trails and group foraging. In contrast to previous results we show that polydomy is beneficial in some but not all cases. Polydomous colonies discover resources at a higher rate, making them more successful when food is highly dispersed, but their relative success can be lowered by limitations on recruitment success. Monodomous colonies can have higher foraging efficiency than polydomous colonies by exploiting food more rapidly. The results show the importance of interactions between recruitment strategy, colony size, and colony organisation. PMID:23380232

  14. Dispersal Polymorphisms in Invasive Fire Ants

    PubMed Central

    Helms, Jackson A.; Godfrey, Aaron

    2016-01-01

    In the Found or Fly (FoF) hypothesis ant queens experience reproduction-dispersal tradeoffs such that queens with heavier abdomens are better at founding colonies but are worse flyers. We tested predictions of FoF in two globally invasive fire ants, Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius, 1804) and S. invicta (Buren, 1972). Colonies of these species may produce two different monogyne queen types—claustral queens with heavy abdomens that found colonies independently, and parasitic queens with small abdomens that enter conspecific nests. Claustral and parasitic queens were similarly sized, but the abdomens of claustral queens weighed twice as much as those of their parasitic counterparts. Their heavier abdomens adversely impacted morphological predictors of flight ability, resulting in 32–38% lower flight muscle ratios, 55–63% higher wing loading, and 32–33% higher abdomen drag. In lab experiments maximum flight durations in claustral S. invicta queens decreased by about 18 minutes for every milligram of abdomen mass. Combining our results into a simple fitness tradeoff model, we calculated that an average parasitic S. invicta queen could produce only 1/3 as many worker offspring as a claustral queen, but could fly 4 times as long and have a 17- to 36-fold larger potential colonization area. Investigations of dispersal polymorphisms and their associated tradeoffs promises to shed light on range expansions in invasive species, the evolution of alternative reproductive strategies, and the selective forces driving the recurrent evolution of parasitism in ants. PMID:27082115

  15. Reduced Chitinase Activities in Ant Plants of the Genus Macaranga

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heil, Martin; Fiala, Brigitte; Linsenmair, K. Eduard; Boller, Thomas

    Many plant species have evolved mutualistic associations with ants, protecting their host against detrimental influences such as herbivorous insects. Letourneau (1998) reported in the case of Piper that ants defend their plants principally against stem-boring insects and also reduce fungal infections on inflorescences. Macaranga plants that were experimentally deprived of their symbiotic Crematogaster ants suffered heavily from shoot borers and pathogenic fungi (Heil 1998). Here we report that ants seem to reduce fungal infections actively in the obligate myrmecophyte Macarangatriloba (Euphorbiaceae), while ant-free plants can be easily infected. We also found extremely low chitinase activity in Macaranga plants. The plants' own biochemical defense seems to be reduced, and low chitinase activity perhaps may represent a predisposition for the evolution of myrmecophytism. These plants are therefore highly dependent on their ants, which obviously function not only as an antiherbivore defense but also as an effective agent against fungal pathogens.

  16. Ant tending influences soldier production in a social aphid.

    PubMed Central

    Shingleton, A W; Foster, W A

    2000-01-01

    The aphid Pseudoregma sundanica (Van der Goot) (Homoptera: Aphididae) has two defence strategies. It is obligatorily tended by various species of ant and also produces sterile soldiers. We investigated how they allocate their investment in these two strategies. We measured the size, number of soldiers, number and species of tending ant, and number and species of predators in P. sundanica populations. We found that the level of ant tending correlated negatively with soldier investment in P. sundanica. The species of tending ant also influenced soldier investment. We excluded ants from aphid populations and recorded changes in population size and structure over four weeks. Ant exclusion led to population decline and extinction. At the same time, surviving populations showed a significant increase in soldier investment. The data demonstrate that social aphids can adjust their investment in soldiers in direct response to environmental change. PMID:11052537

  17. Image feature extraction based multiple ant colonies cooperation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhang, Zhilong; Yang, Weiping; Li, Jicheng

    2015-05-01

    This paper presents a novel image feature extraction algorithm based on multiple ant colonies cooperation. Firstly, a low resolution version of the input image is created using Gaussian pyramid algorithm, and two ant colonies are spread on the source image and low resolution image respectively. The ant colony on the low resolution image uses phase congruency as its inspiration information, while the ant colony on the source image uses gradient magnitude as its inspiration information. These two ant colonies cooperate to extract salient image features through sharing a same pheromone matrix. After the optimization process, image features are detected based on thresholding the pheromone matrix. Since gradient magnitude and phase congruency of the input image are used as inspiration information of the ant colonies, our algorithm shows higher intelligence and is capable of acquiring more complete and meaningful image features than other simpler edge detectors.

  18. Behavior of Ants Escaping from a Single-Exit Room

    PubMed Central

    Wang, Shujie; Lv, Wei; Song, Weiguo

    2015-01-01

    To study the rules of ant behavior and group-formation phenomena, we examined the behaviors of Camponotus japonicus, a species of large ant, in a range of situations. For these experiments, ants were placed inside a rectangular chamber with a single exit that also contained a filter paper soaked in citronella oil, a powerful repellent. The ants formed several groups as they moved toward the exit to escape. We measured the time intervals between individual escapes in six versions of the experiment, each containing an exit of a different width, to quantify the movement of the groups. As the ants exited the chamber, the time intervals between individual escapes changed and the frequency distribution of the time intervals exhibited exponential decay. We also investigated the relationship between the number of ants in a group and the group flow rate. PMID:26125191

  19. Behavior of Ants Escaping from a Single-Exit Room.

    PubMed

    Wang, Shujie; Lv, Wei; Song, Weiguo

    2015-01-01

    To study the rules of ant behavior and group-formation phenomena, we examined the behaviors of Camponotus japonicus, a species of large ant, in a range of situations. For these experiments, ants were placed inside a rectangular chamber with a single exit that also contained a filter paper soaked in citronella oil, a powerful repellent. The ants formed several groups as they moved toward the exit to escape. We measured the time intervals between individual escapes in six versions of the experiment, each containing an exit of a different width, to quantify the movement of the groups. As the ants exited the chamber, the time intervals between individual escapes changed and the frequency distribution of the time intervals exhibited exponential decay. We also investigated the relationship between the number of ants in a group and the group flow rate.

  20. Millipede defense: use of detachable bristles to entangle ants.

    PubMed

    Eisner, T; Eisner, M; Deyrup, M

    1996-10-01

    The millipede Polyxenus fasciculatus (Diplopoda; Polyxenida) defends itself against ants by use of a pair of bristle tufts at its rear. When attacked, it wipes the tufts against the ants, thereby causing these to become encumbered by bristles that detach from the tufts. Ants contaminated with bristles desist from their assault. The bristles have grappling hooks at the tip by which they lock onto setae of the ants and barbs along their length by which they interlink. In attempting to rid themselves of bristles, ants may succeed only in further entangling themselves by causing the bristles to become enmeshed. Ants heavily contaminated may remain entangled and die. Most millipedes have chemical defenses; polyxenids, instead, have a mechanical weapon.

  1. Cascading trait-mediated interactions induced by ant pheromones.

    PubMed

    Hsieh, Hsun-Yi; Liere, Heidi; Soto, Estelí J; Perfecto, Ivette

    2012-09-01

    Trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMII) can be as important as density-mediated indirect interactions. Here, we provide evidence for a novel trait-mediated cascade (where one TMII affects another TMII) and demonstrate that the mechanism consists of a predator eavesdropping on chemical signaling. Ants protect scale insects from predation by adult coccinellid beetles - the first TMII. However, parasitic phorid flies reduce ant foraging activity by 50% - the second TMII, providing a window of opportunity for female beetles to oviposit in high-quality microsites. Beetle larvae are protected from ant predation and benefit from living in patches with high scale densities. We demonstrate that female beetles can detect pheromones released by the ant when attacked by phorids, and that only females, and especially gravid females, are attracted to the ant pheromone. As ants reduce their movement when under attack by phorids, we conclude that phorids facilitate beetle oviposition, thus producing the TMII cascade. PMID:23139877

  2. Just follow your nose: homing by olfactory cues in ants.

    PubMed

    Steck, Kathrin

    2012-04-01

    How is an ant-equipped with a brain that barely exceeds the size of a pinhead-capable of achieving navigational marvels? Even though evidences suggest that navigation is a multimodal process, ants heavily depend on olfactory cues-of pheromonal and non-pheromonal nature-for foraging and orientation. Recent studies have directed their attention to the efficiency of pheromone trail networks. Advances in neurophysiological techniques make it possible to investigate trail pheromone processing in the ant's brain. In addition to relying on pheromone odours, ants also make use of volatiles emanating from the nest surroundings. Deposited in the vicinity of the nest, these home-range markings help the ants to home after a foraging run. Furthermore, olfactory landmarks associated with the nest enhance ants' homing abilities. PMID:22137100

  3. Cascading trait-mediated interactions induced by ant pheromones

    PubMed Central

    Hsieh, Hsun-Yi; Liere, Heidi; Soto, Estelí J; Perfecto, Ivette

    2012-01-01

    Trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMII) can be as important as density-mediated indirect interactions. Here, we provide evidence for a novel trait-mediated cascade (where one TMII affects another TMII) and demonstrate that the mechanism consists of a predator eavesdropping on chemical signaling. Ants protect scale insects from predation by adult coccinellid beetles – the first TMII. However, parasitic phorid flies reduce ant foraging activity by 50% – the second TMII, providing a window of opportunity for female beetles to oviposit in high-quality microsites. Beetle larvae are protected from ant predation and benefit from living in patches with high scale densities. We demonstrate that female beetles can detect pheromones released by the ant when attacked by phorids, and that only females, and especially gravid females, are attracted to the ant pheromone. As ants reduce their movement when under attack by phorids, we conclude that phorids facilitate beetle oviposition, thus producing the TMII cascade. PMID:23139877

  4. Cytogenetic data on six leafcutter ants of the genus Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae): insights into chromosome evolution and taxonomic implications

    PubMed Central

    Barros, Luísa Antônia Campos; de Aguiar, Hilton Jeferson Alves Cardoso; Mariano, Cléa dos Santos Ferreira; Andrade-Souza, Vanderly; Costa, Marco Antonio; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Pompolo, Silvia das Graças

    2016-01-01

    Abstract Cytogenetic data for the genus Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865 are available, to date, for a few species from Brazil and Uruguay, which have uniform chromosome numbers (2n = 38). The recent cytogenetic data of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), including its banding patterns, showed a distinct karyotype (2n = 22), similar to earlier studied Atta Fabricius, 1804 species. Karyological data are still scarce for the leafcutter ants and many gaps are still present for a proper understanding of this group. Therefore, this study aimed at increasing cytogenetic knowledge of the genus through the characterization of other six species: Acromyrmex balzani (Emery, 1890), Acromyrmex coronatus Fabricius, 1804, Acromyrmex disciger (Mayr, 1887), Acromyrmex echinatior (Forel, 1899), Acromyrmex niger (Smith, 1858) and Acromyrmex rugosus (Smith, 1858), all of which were collected in Minas Gerais – Brazil, except for Acromyrmex echinatior which was collected in Barro Colorado – Panama. The number and morphology of the chromosomes were studied and the following banding techniques were applied: C-banding, fluorochromes CMA3 and DAPI, as well as the detection of 45S rDNA using FISH technique. All the six species had the same chromosome number observed for already studied species, i.e. 2n = 38. Acromyrmex balzani had a different karyotype compared with other species mainly due to the first metacentric pair. The heterochromatin distribution also showed interspecific variation. Nevertheless, all the studied species had a pair of bands in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair. The fluorochrome CMA3 visualized bands in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair for all the six species, while Acromyrmex rugosus and Acromyrmex niger also demonstrated in the other chromosomes. The AT-rich regions with differential staining using DAPI were not observed. 45S ribosomal genes were identified by FISH in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair in Acromyrmex coronatus, Acromyrmex

  5. Cytogenetic data on six leafcutter ants of the genus Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae): insights into chromosome evolution and taxonomic implications.

    PubMed

    Barros, Luísa Antônia Campos; de Aguiar, Hilton Jeferson Alves Cardoso; Mariano, Cléa Dos Santos Ferreira; Andrade-Souza, Vanderly; Costa, Marco Antonio; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Pompolo, Silvia das Graças

    2016-01-01

    Cytogenetic data for the genus Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865 are available, to date, for a few species from Brazil and Uruguay, which have uniform chromosome numbers (2n = 38). The recent cytogenetic data of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), including its banding patterns, showed a distinct karyotype (2n = 22), similar to earlier studied Atta Fabricius, 1804 species. Karyological data are still scarce for the leafcutter ants and many gaps are still present for a proper understanding of this group. Therefore, this study aimed at increasing cytogenetic knowledge of the genus through the characterization of other six species: Acromyrmex balzani (Emery, 1890), Acromyrmex coronatus Fabricius, 1804, Acromyrmex disciger (Mayr, 1887), Acromyrmex echinatior (Forel, 1899), Acromyrmex niger (Smith, 1858) and Acromyrmex rugosus (Smith, 1858), all of which were collected in Minas Gerais - Brazil, except for Acromyrmex echinatior which was collected in Barro Colorado - Panama. The number and morphology of the chromosomes were studied and the following banding techniques were applied: C-banding, fluorochromes CMA3 and DAPI, as well as the detection of 45S rDNA using FISH technique. All the six species had the same chromosome number observed for already studied species, i.e. 2n = 38. Acromyrmex balzani had a different karyotype compared with other species mainly due to the first metacentric pair. The heterochromatin distribution also showed interspecific variation. Nevertheless, all the studied species had a pair of bands in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair. The fluorochrome CMA3 visualized bands in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair for all the six species, while Acromyrmex rugosus and Acromyrmex niger also demonstrated in the other chromosomes. The AT-rich regions with differential staining using DAPI were not observed. 45S ribosomal genes were identified by FISH in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair in Acromyrmex coronatus, Acromyrmex disciger and

  6. Do herbivores eavesdrop on ant chemical communication to avoid predation?

    PubMed

    Gonthier, David J

    2012-01-01

    Strong effects of predator chemical cues on prey are common in aquatic and marine ecosystems, but are thought to be rare in terrestrial systems and specifically for arthropods. For ants, herbivores are hypothesized to eavesdrop on ant chemical communication and thereby avoid predation or confrontation. Here I tested the effect of ant chemical cues on herbivore choice and herbivory. Using Margaridisa sp. flea beetles and leaves from the host tree (Conostegia xalapensis), I performed paired-leaf choice feeding experiments. Coating leaves with crushed ant liquids (Azteca instabilis), exposing leaves to ant patrolling prior to choice tests (A. instabilis and Camponotus textor) and comparing leaves from trees with and without A. instabilis nests resulted in more herbivores and herbivory on control (no ant-treatment) relative to ant-treatment leaves. In contrast to A. instabilis and C. textor, leaves previously patrolled by Solenopsis geminata had no difference in beetle number and damage compared to control leaves. Altering the time A. instabilis patrolled treatment leaves prior to choice tests (0-, 5-, 30-, 90-, 180-min.) revealed treatment effects were only statistically significant after 90- and 180-min. of prior leaf exposure. This study suggests, for two ecologically important and taxonomically diverse genera (Azteca and Camponotus), ant chemical cues have important effects on herbivores and that these effects may be widespread across the ant family. It suggests that the effect of chemical cues on herbivores may only appear after substantial previous ant activity has occurred on plant tissues. Furthermore, it supports the hypothesis that herbivores use ant chemical communication to avoid predation or confrontation with ants.

  7. Behind every great ant, there is a great gut.

    PubMed

    Poulsen, Michael; Sapountzis, Panagiotis

    2012-05-01

    Ants are quite possibly the most successful insects on Earth, with an estimated 10,000 species worldwide, making up at least a third of the global insect biomass, and comprising several times the biomass of all land vertebrates combined. Ant species have diverse trophic habits, including herbivory, hunting/gathering, scavenging and predation and are distributed in diverse habitats, performing a variety of important ecosystem functions. Often they exert these functions while engaging in symbiotic associations with other insects, plants or microbes; however, remarkably little work has focused on the potential contribution of the ants' gut symbionts. This issue of Molecular Ecology contains a study by Anderson et al. (2012), who take a comparative approach to explore the link between trophic levels and ant microbiomes, specifically, to address three main questions: (i) Do closely related herbivorous ants share similar bacterial communities? (ii) Do species of predatory ants share similar bacterial communities? (iii) Do distantly related herbivorous ants tend to share similar bacterial communities? By doing so, the authors demonstrate that ants with similar trophic habits appear to have relatively conserved gut microbiomes, suggesting symbiont functions that directly relate to dietary preference of the ant host. These findings suggest an ecological role of gut symbionts in ants, for example, in metabolism and/or protection, and the comparative approach taken supports a model of co-evolution between ant species and specific core symbiont microbiomes. This study, thereby, highlights the omnipresence and importance of gut symbioses-also in the Hymenoptera-and suggests that these hitherto overlooked microbes likely have contributed to the ecological success of the ants.

  8. Do herbivores eavesdrop on ant chemical communication to avoid predation?

    PubMed

    Gonthier, David J

    2012-01-01

    Strong effects of predator chemical cues on prey are common in aquatic and marine ecosystems, but are thought to be rare in terrestrial systems and specifically for arthropods. For ants, herbivores are hypothesized to eavesdrop on ant chemical communication and thereby avoid predation or confrontation. Here I tested the effect of ant chemical cues on herbivore choice and herbivory. Using Margaridisa sp. flea beetles and leaves from the host tree (Conostegia xalapensis), I performed paired-leaf choice feeding experiments. Coating leaves with crushed ant liquids (Azteca instabilis), exposing leaves to ant patrolling prior to choice tests (A. instabilis and Camponotus textor) and comparing leaves from trees with and without A. instabilis nests resulted in more herbivores and herbivory on control (no ant-treatment) relative to ant-treatment leaves. In contrast to A. instabilis and C. textor, leaves previously patrolled by Solenopsis geminata had no difference in beetle number and damage compared to control leaves. Altering the time A. instabilis patrolled treatment leaves prior to choice tests (0-, 5-, 30-, 90-, 180-min.) revealed treatment effects were only statistically significant after 90- and 180-min. of prior leaf exposure. This study suggests, for two ecologically important and taxonomically diverse genera (Azteca and Camponotus), ant chemical cues have important effects on herbivores and that these effects may be widespread across the ant family. It suggests that the effect of chemical cues on herbivores may only appear after substantial previous ant activity has occurred on plant tissues. Furthermore, it supports the hypothesis that herbivores use ant chemical communication to avoid predation or confrontation with ants. PMID:22235248

  9. Insect communication: 'no entry' signal in ant foraging.

    PubMed

    Robinson, Elva J H; Jackson, Duncan E; Holcombe, Mike; Ratnieks, Francis L W

    2005-11-24

    Forager ants lay attractive trail pheromones to guide nestmates to food, but the effectiveness of foraging networks might be improved if pheromones could also be used to repel foragers from unrewarding routes. Here we present empirical evidence for such a negative trail pheromone, deployed by Pharaoh's ants (Monomorium pharaonis) as a 'no entry' signal to mark an unrewarding foraging path. This finding constitutes another example of the sophisticated control mechanisms used in self-organized ant colonies. PMID:16306981

  10. Consuming fire ants reduces northern bobwhite survival and weight gain

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Myers, P.E.; Allen, Craig R.; Birge, Hannah E.

    2014-01-01

    Northern bobwhite quail, Colinus virginianus (L.) (Galliformes: Odontophoridae), population declines are well documented, but pinpointing the reasons for these decreases has proven elusive. Bobwhite population declines are attributed primarily to loss of habitat and land use changes. This, however, does not entirely explain population declines in areas intensively managed for bobwhites. Although previous research demonstrates the negative impact of red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on northern bobwhites, the mechanisms underlying this effect are largely unknown. To meet the protein demands of early growth and development, bobwhite chicks predominantly consume small insects, of which ants are a substantial proportion. Fire ants alter ant community dynamics by often reducing native ant diversity and abundance while concurrently increasing the abundance of individuals. Fire ants have negative effects on chicks, but they are also a large potential protein source, making it difficult to disentangle their net effect on bobwhite chicks. To help investigate these effects, we conducted a laboratory experiment to understand (1) whether or not bobwhites consume fire ants, and (2) how the benefits of this consumption compare to the deleterious impacts of bobwhite chick exposure to fire ants. Sixty bobwhite chicks were separated into two groups of 30; one group was provided with starter feed only and the second group was provided with feed and fire ants. Bobwhite chicks were observed feeding on fire ants. Chicks that fed on fire ants had reduced survival and weight gain. Our results show that, while fire ants increase potential food sources for northern bobwhite, their net effect on bobwhite chicks is deleterious. This information will help inform land managers and commercial bobwhite rearing operations.

  11. Do Herbivores Eavesdrop on Ant Chemical Communication to Avoid Predation?

    PubMed Central

    Gonthier, David J.

    2012-01-01

    Strong effects of predator chemical cues on prey are common in aquatic and marine ecosystems, but are thought to be rare in terrestrial systems and specifically for arthropods. For ants, herbivores are hypothesized to eavesdrop on ant chemical communication and thereby avoid predation or confrontation. Here I tested the effect of ant chemical cues on herbivore choice and herbivory. Using Margaridisa sp. flea beetles and leaves from the host tree (Conostegia xalapensis), I performed paired-leaf choice feeding experiments. Coating leaves with crushed ant liquids (Azteca instabilis), exposing leaves to ant patrolling prior to choice tests (A. instabilis and Camponotus textor) and comparing leaves from trees with and without A. instabilis nests resulted in more herbivores and herbivory on control (no ant-treatment) relative to ant-treatment leaves. In contrast to A. instabilis and C. textor, leaves previously patrolled by Solenopsis geminata had no difference in beetle number and damage compared to control leaves. Altering the time A. instabilis patrolled treatment leaves prior to choice tests (0-, 5-, 30-, 90-, 180-min.) revealed treatment effects were only statistically significant after 90- and 180-min. of prior leaf exposure. This study suggests, for two ecologically important and taxonomically diverse genera (Azteca and Camponotus), ant chemical cues have important effects on herbivores and that these effects may be widespread across the ant family. It suggests that the effect of chemical cues on herbivores may only appear after substantial previous ant activity has occurred on plant tissues. Furthermore, it supports the hypothesis that herbivores use ant chemical communication to avoid predation or confrontation with ants. PMID:22235248

  12. Ant behaviour and seed morphology: a missing link of myrmecochory.

    PubMed

    Gómez, Crisanto; Espadaler, Xavier; Bas, Josep M

    2005-12-01

    Seed dispersal by ants (myrmecochory) is mediated by the presence of a lipid-rich appendage (elaiosome) on the seed that induces a variety of ants to collect the diaspores. When seeds mature or fall onto the ground, these ant species transport them to their nest. After eating the elaiosome, the seed is discarded in nest galleries or outside, in the midden or farther away, where seeds can potentially germinate. The final location of seeds with their elaiosomes removed was evaluated to assess the importance of possible handles (structures that ants can grasp to carry) in transporting ants during re-dispersal experiments of seeds from nests of six species of ants. The results indicate that seeds remained within the nest because the ants were not able to transport them out of the nest. As a consequence of the elaiosome being removed, small ant species could not take Euphorbia characias seeds out of their nests. Only large ant species could remove E. characias seeds from their nests. Attaching an artificial handle to E. characias seeds allowed small ant species to redistribute the seeds from their nests. On the other hand, Rhamnus alaternus seeds that have a natural handle after the elaiosome removal were removed from the nests by both groups of ant species. If a seed has an element that acts as a handle, it will eventually get taken out of the nest. The ants' size and their mandible gap can determine the outcome of the interaction (i.e. the pattern of the final seed shadow) and as a consequence, could influence the events that take place after the dispersal process. PMID:16044350

  13. Ant Homing Ability Is Not Diminished When Traveling Backwards.

    PubMed

    Ardin, Paul B; Mangan, Michael; Webb, Barbara

    2016-01-01

    Ants are known to be capable of homing to their nest after displacement to a novel location. This is widely assumed to involve some form of retinotopic matching between their current view and previously experienced views. One simple algorithm proposed to explain this behavior is continuous retinotopic alignment, in which the ant constantly adjusts its heading by rotating to minimize the pixel-wise difference of its current view from all views stored while facing the nest. However, ants with large prey items will often drag them home while facing backwards. We tested whether displaced ants (Myrmecia croslandi) dragging prey could still home despite experiencing an inverted view of their surroundings under these conditions. Ants moving backwards with food took similarly direct paths to the nest as ants moving forward without food, demonstrating that continuous retinotopic alignment is not a critical component of homing. It is possible that ants use initial or intermittent retinotopic alignment, coupled with some other direction stabilizing cue that they can utilize when moving backward. However, though most ants dragging prey would occasionally look toward the nest, we observed that their heading direction was not noticeably improved afterwards. We assume ants must use comparison of current and stored images for corrections of their path, but suggest they are either able to chose the appropriate visual memory for comparison using an additional mechanism; or can make such comparisons without retinotopic alignment. PMID:27147991

  14. Ant patchiness: a spatially quantitative test in coffee agroecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Philpott, Stacy M.

    2006-08-01

    Arboreal ants form patchy spatial patterns in tropical agroforest canopies. Such patchy distributions more likely occur in disturbed habitats associated with lower ant diversity and resource availability than in forests. Yet, few studies have quantitatively examined these patchy patterns to statistically test if ants are non-randomly distributed or at what scale. Coffee agroecosystems form a gradient of management intensification along which vegetative complexity and ant diversity decline. Using field studies and a spatially explicit randomization model, I investigated ant patchiness in coffee agroecosystems in Chiapas, Mexico varying in management intensity to examine if: (1) coffee intensification affects occurrence of numerically dominant ants, (2) numerical dominants form statistically distinguishable single-species patches in coffee plants, (3) shade trees play a role in patch location, and (4) patch formation or size varies with management intensity. Coffee intensification correlated with lower occurrence frequency of numerically dominant species generally and of one of four taxa examined. All dominant ant species formed patches but only Azteca instabilis was patchy around shade trees. Ant patchiness did vary somewhat with spatial scale and with strata (within the coffee layer vs around shade trees). Patchiness, however, did not vary with management intensity. These results provide quantitative evidence that numerically dominant ants are patchy within the coffee layer at different scales and that shade tree location, but not coffee management intensity, may play a role in the formation of patchy distributions.

  15. Ant patchiness: a spatially quantitative test in coffee agroecosystems.

    PubMed

    Philpott, Stacy M

    2006-08-01

    Arboreal ants form patchy spatial patterns in tropical agroforest canopies. Such patchy distributions more likely occur in disturbed habitats associated with lower ant diversity and resource availability than in forests. Yet, few studies have quantitatively examined these patchy patterns to statistically test if ants are non-randomly distributed or at what scale. Coffee agroecosystems form a gradient of management intensification along which vegetative complexity and ant diversity decline. Using field studies and a spatially explicit randomization model, I investigated ant patchiness in coffee agroecosystems in Chiapas, Mexico varying in management intensity to examine if: (1) coffee intensification affects occurrence of numerically dominant ants, (2) numerical dominants form statistically distinguishable single-species patches in coffee plants, (3) shade trees play a role in patch location, and (4) patch formation or size varies with management intensity. Coffee intensification correlated with lower occurrence frequency of numerically dominant species generally and of one of four taxa examined. All dominant ant species formed patches but only Azteca instabilis was patchy around shade trees. Ant patchiness did vary somewhat with spatial scale and with strata (within the coffee layer vs around shade trees). Patchiness, however, did not vary with management intensity. These results provide quantitative evidence that numerically dominant ants are patchy within the coffee layer at different scales and that shade tree location, but not coffee management intensity, may play a role in the formation of patchy distributions. PMID:16676158

  16. Improved Ant Colony Clustering Algorithm and Its Performance Study.

    PubMed

    Gao, Wei

    2016-01-01

    Clustering analysis is used in many disciplines and applications; it is an important tool that descriptively identifies homogeneous groups of objects based on attribute values. The ant colony clustering algorithm is a swarm-intelligent method used for clustering problems that is inspired by the behavior of ant colonies that cluster their corpses and sort their larvae. A new abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm using a data combination mechanism is proposed to improve the computational efficiency and accuracy of the ant colony clustering algorithm. The abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm is used to cluster benchmark problems, and its performance is compared with the ant colony clustering algorithm and other methods used in existing literature. Based on similar computational difficulties and complexities, the results show that the abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm produces results that are not only more accurate but also more efficiently determined than the ant colony clustering algorithm and the other methods. Thus, the abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm can be used for efficient multivariate data clustering. PMID:26839533

  17. Ant plant herbivore interactions in the neotropical cerrado savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oliveira, Paulo S.; Freitas, André V. L.

    2004-12-01

    The Brazilian cerrado savanna covers nearly 2 million km2 and has a high incidence on foliage of various liquid food sources such as extrafloral nectar and insect exudates. These liquid rewards generate intense ant activity on cerrado foliage, making ant plant herbivore interactions especially prevalent in this biome. We present data on the distribution and abundance of extrafloral nectaries in the woody flora of cerrado communities and in the flora of other habitats worldwide, and stress the relevance of liquid food sources (including hemipteran honeydew) for the ant fauna. Consumption by ants of plant and insect exudates significantly affects the activity of the associated herbivores of cerrado plant species, with varying impacts on the reproductive output of the plants. Experiments with an ant plant butterfly system unequivocally demonstrate that the behavior of both immature and adult lepidopterans is closely related to the use of a risky host plant, where intensive visitation by ants can have a severe impact on caterpillar survival. We discuss recent evidence suggesting that the occurrence of liquid rewards on leaves plays a key role in mediating the foraging ecology of foliage-dwelling ants, and that facultative ant plant mutualisms are important in structuring the community of canopy arthropods. Ant-mediated effects on cerrado herbivore communities can be revealed by experiments performed on wide spatial scales, including many environmental factors such as soil fertility and vegetation structure. We also present some research questions that could be rewarding to investigate in this major neotropical savanna.

  18. Improved Ant Colony Clustering Algorithm and Its Performance Study

    PubMed Central

    Gao, Wei

    2016-01-01

    Clustering analysis is used in many disciplines and applications; it is an important tool that descriptively identifies homogeneous groups of objects based on attribute values. The ant colony clustering algorithm is a swarm-intelligent method used for clustering problems that is inspired by the behavior of ant colonies that cluster their corpses and sort their larvae. A new abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm using a data combination mechanism is proposed to improve the computational efficiency and accuracy of the ant colony clustering algorithm. The abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm is used to cluster benchmark problems, and its performance is compared with the ant colony clustering algorithm and other methods used in existing literature. Based on similar computational difficulties and complexities, the results show that the abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm produces results that are not only more accurate but also more efficiently determined than the ant colony clustering algorithm and the other methods. Thus, the abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm can be used for efficient multivariate data clustering. PMID:26839533

  19. Signals Can Trump Rewards in Attracting Seed-Dispersing Ants

    PubMed Central

    Turner, Kyle M.; Frederickson, Megan E.

    2013-01-01

    Both rewards and signals are important in mutualisms. In myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants, the benefits to plants are relatively well studied, but less is known about why ants pick up and move seeds. We examined seed dispersal by the ant Aphaenogaster rudis of four co-occurring species of plants, and tested whether morphology, chemical signaling, or the nutritional quality of fatty seed appendages called elaiosomes influenced dispersal rates. In removal trials, ants quickly collected diaspores (seeds plus elaiosomes) of Asarum canadense, Trillium grandiflorum, and Sanguinaria canadensis, but largely neglected those of T. erectum. This discrepancy was not explained by differences in the bulk cost-benefit ratio, as assessed by the ratio of seed to elaiosome mass. We also provisioned colonies with diaspores from one of these four plant species or no diaspores as a control. Colonies performed best when fed S. canadensis diaspores, worst when fed T. grandiflorum, and intermediately when fed A. canadense, T. erectum, or no diaspores. Thus, the nutritional rewards in elaiosomes affected colony performance, but did not completely predict seed removal. Instead, high levels of oleic acid in T. grandiflorum elaiosomes may explain why ants disperse these diaspores even though they reduce ant colony performance. We show for the first time that different elaiosome-bearing plants provide rewards of different quality to ant colonies, but also that ants appear unable to accurately assess reward quality when encountering seeds. Instead, we suggest that signals can trump rewards as attractants of ants to seeds. PMID:23967257

  20. Insecticide Transfer Efficiency and Lethal Load in Argentine Ants

    DOE PAGESBeta

    Hooper-Bui, L. M.; Kwok, E S.C.; Buchholz, B. A.; Rust, M. K.; Eastmond, D. A.; Vogel, J. S.

    2015-07-03

    Trophallaxis between individual worker ants and the toxicant load in dead and live Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in colonies exposed to fipronil and hydramethylnon experimental baits were examined using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). About 50% of the content of the crop containing trace levels of 14C-sucrose, 14C-hydramethylnon, and 14C-fipronil was shared between single donor and recipient ants. Dead workers and queens contained significantly more hydramethylnon (122.7 and 22.4 amol/μg ant, respectively) than did live workers and queens (96.3 and 10.4 amol/μg ant, respectively). Dead workers had significantly more fipronil (420.3 amol/μg ant) than did live workers (208.5 amol/μg ant), butmore » dead and live queens had equal fipronil levels (59.5 and 54.3 amol/μg ant, respectively). Moreover, the distribution of fipronil differed within the bodies of dead and live queens; the highest amounts of fipronil were recovered in the thorax of dead queens whereas live queens had the highest levels in the head. Resurgence of polygynous ant colonies treated with hydramethylnon baits may be explained by queen survival resulting from sublethal doses due to a slowing of trophallaxis throughout the colony. The bait strategies and dose levels for controlling insect pests need to be based on the specific toxicant properties and trophic strategies for targeting the entire colony.« less

  1. Insecticide Transfer Efficiency and Lethal Load in Argentine Ants

    SciTech Connect

    Hooper-Bui, L. M.; Kwok, E S.C.; Buchholz, B. A.; Rust, M. K.; Eastmond, D. A.; Vogel, J. S.

    2015-07-03

    Trophallaxis between individual worker ants and the toxicant load in dead and live Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in colonies exposed to fipronil and hydramethylnon experimental baits were examined using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). About 50% of the content of the crop containing trace levels of 14C-sucrose, 14C-hydramethylnon, and 14C-fipronil was shared between single donor and recipient ants. Dead workers and queens contained significantly more hydramethylnon (122.7 and 22.4 amol/μg ant, respectively) than did live workers and queens (96.3 and 10.4 amol/μg ant, respectively). Dead workers had significantly more fipronil (420.3 amol/μg ant) than did live workers (208.5 amol/μg ant), but dead and live queens had equal fipronil levels (59.5 and 54.3 amol/μg ant, respectively). Moreover, the distribution of fipronil differed within the bodies of dead and live queens; the highest amounts of fipronil were recovered in the thorax of dead queens whereas live queens had the highest levels in the head. Resurgence of polygynous ant colonies treated with hydramethylnon baits may be explained by queen survival resulting from sublethal doses due to a slowing of trophallaxis throughout the colony. The bait strategies and dose levels for controlling insect pests need to be based on the specific toxicant properties and trophic strategies for targeting the entire colony.

  2. Five new records of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) for Nebraska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nemec, Kristine T.; Trager, James C.; Manley, Elizabeth; Allen, Craig R.

    2012-01-01

    Ants are ubiquitous and influential organisms in terrestrial ecosystems. About 1,000 ant species occur in North America, where they are found in nearly every habitat (Fisher and Cover 2007). Ants are critical to ecological processes and structure. Ants affect soils via tunneling activity (Baxter and Hole 1967), disperse plant seeds (Lengyel et al. 2009), prey upon a variety of insects and other invertebrates (Way and Khoo 1992, Folgarait 1998), are often effective primary consumers through their prodigious consumption of floral and especially extrafloral nectar, and honeydew (Tobin 1994), and serve as prey for invertebrates (Gotelli 1996, Gastreich 1999) and vertebrates (Reiss 2001).

  3. Egocentric information helps desert ants to navigate around familiar obstacles.

    PubMed

    Bisch-Knaden, S; Wehner, R

    2001-12-01

    Homing ants have been shown to associate directional information with familiar landmarks. The sight of these local cues might either directly guide the path of the ant or it might activate a landmark-based vector that points towards the goal position. In either case, the ants define their courses within allocentric systems of reference. Here, we show that desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, forced to run along a devious path can use egocentric information as well. The ants were trained to deviate from their straight homebound course by a wide inconspicuous barrier that was placed between the feeding and nesting sites. At a distant test area, the ants were confronted with an identical barrier rotated through 45 degrees. After passing the edge of the obstacle, the ants did not proceed in the trained direction, defined by the skylight compass, but rotated their courses to match the rotation of the barrier. Visual guidance could be excluded because, as soon as the ants turned around the end of the barrier, the visual cue it provided vanished from their field of view. Instead, the ants must have maintained a constant angle relative to their previous walking trajectory along the obstacle and, hence, must have determined their new vector course in an egocentric way.

  4. Looking and homing: how displaced ants decide where to go.

    PubMed

    Zeil, Jochen; Narendra, Ajay; Stürzl, Wolfgang

    2014-01-01

    We caught solitary foragers of the Australian Jack Jumper ant, Myrmecia croslandi, and released them in three compass directions at distances of 10 and 15 m from the nest at locations they have never been before. We recorded the head orientation and the movements of ants within a radius of 20 cm from the release point and, in some cases, tracked their subsequent paths with a differential GPS. We find that upon surfacing from their transport vials onto a release platform, most ants move into the home direction after looking around briefly. The ants use a systematic scanning procedure, consisting of saccadic head and body rotations that sweep gaze across the scene with an average angular velocity of 90° s(-1) and intermittent changes in turning direction. By mapping the ants' gaze directions onto the local panorama, we find that neither the ants' gaze nor their decisions to change turning direction are clearly associated with salient or significant features in the scene. Instead, the ants look most frequently in the home direction and start walking fast when doing so. Displaced ants can thus identify home direction with little translation, but exclusively through rotational scanning. We discuss the navigational information content of the ants' habitat and how the insects' behaviour informs us about how they may acquire and retrieve that information.

  5. Signals can trump rewards in attracting seed-dispersing ants.

    PubMed

    Turner, Kyle M; Frederickson, Megan E

    2013-01-01

    Both rewards and signals are important in mutualisms. In myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants, the benefits to plants are relatively well studied, but less is known about why ants pick up and move seeds. We examined seed dispersal by the ant Aphaenogaster rudis of four co-occurring species of plants, and tested whether morphology, chemical signaling, or the nutritional quality of fatty seed appendages called elaiosomes influenced dispersal rates. In removal trials, ants quickly collected diaspores (seeds plus elaiosomes) of Asarum canadense, Trillium grandiflorum, and Sanguinaria canadensis, but largely neglected those of T. erectum. This discrepancy was not explained by differences in the bulk cost-benefit ratio, as assessed by the ratio of seed to elaiosome mass. We also provisioned colonies with diaspores from one of these four plant species or no diaspores as a control. Colonies performed best when fed S. canadensis diaspores, worst when fed T. grandiflorum, and intermediately when fed A. canadense, T. erectum, or no diaspores. Thus, the nutritional rewards in elaiosomes affected colony performance, but did not completely predict seed removal. Instead, high levels of oleic acid in T. grandiflorum elaiosomes may explain why ants disperse these diaspores even though they reduce ant colony performance. We show for the first time that different elaiosome-bearing plants provide rewards of different quality to ant colonies, but also that ants appear unable to accurately assess reward quality when encountering seeds. Instead, we suggest that signals can trump rewards as attractants of ants to seeds. PMID:23967257

  6. Ant Homing Ability Is Not Diminished When Traveling Backwards

    PubMed Central

    Ardin, Paul B.; Mangan, Michael; Webb, Barbara

    2016-01-01

    Ants are known to be capable of homing to their nest after displacement to a novel location. This is widely assumed to involve some form of retinotopic matching between their current view and previously experienced views. One simple algorithm proposed to explain this behavior is continuous retinotopic alignment, in which the ant constantly adjusts its heading by rotating to minimize the pixel-wise difference of its current view from all views stored while facing the nest. However, ants with large prey items will often drag them home while facing backwards. We tested whether displaced ants (Myrmecia croslandi) dragging prey could still home despite experiencing an inverted view of their surroundings under these conditions. Ants moving backwards with food took similarly direct paths to the nest as ants moving forward without food, demonstrating that continuous retinotopic alignment is not a critical component of homing. It is possible that ants use initial or intermittent retinotopic alignment, coupled with some other direction stabilizing cue that they can utilize when moving backward. However, though most ants dragging prey would occasionally look toward the nest, we observed that their heading direction was not noticeably improved afterwards. We assume ants must use comparison of current and stored images for corrections of their path, but suggest they are either able to chose the appropriate visual memory for comparison using an additional mechanism; or can make such comparisons without retinotopic alignment. PMID:27147991

  7. Insecticide transfer efficiency and lethal load in Argentine ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hooper-Bui, L. M.; Kwok, E. S. C.; Buchholz, B. A.; Rust, M. K.; Eastmond, D. A.; Vogel, J. S.

    2015-10-01

    Trophallaxis between individual worker ants and the toxicant load in dead and live Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in colonies exposed to fipronil and hydramethylnon experimental baits were examined using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). About 50% of the content of the crop containing trace levels of 14C-sucrose, 14C-hydramethylnon, and 14C-fipronil was shared between single donor and recipient ants. Dead workers and queens contained significantly more hydramethylnon (122.7 and 22.4 amol/μg ant, respectively) than did live workers and queens (96.3 and 10.4 amol/μg ant, respectively). Dead workers had significantly more fipronil (420.3 amol/μg ant) than did live workers (208.5 amol/μg ant), but dead and live queens had equal fipronil levels (59.5 and 54.3 amol/μg ant, respectively). The distribution of fipronil differed within the bodies of dead and live queens; the highest amounts of fipronil were recovered in the thorax of dead queens whereas live queens had the highest levels in the head. Resurgence of polygynous ant colonies treated with hydramethylnon baits may be explained by queen survival resulting from sublethal doses due to a slowing of trophallaxis throughout the colony. Bait strategies and dose levels for controlling insect pests need to be based on the specific toxicant properties and trophic strategies for targeting the entire colony.

  8. The Effect of Diet and Opponent Size on Aggressive Interactions Involving Caribbean Crazy Ants (Nylanderia fulva)

    PubMed Central

    Horn, Katherine C.; Eubanks, Micky D.; Siemann, Evan

    2013-01-01

    Biotic interactions are often important in the establishment and spread of invasive species. In particular, competition between introduced and native species can strongly influence the distribution and spread of exotic species and in some cases competition among introduced species can be important. The Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, was recently introduced to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and appears to be spreading inland. It has been hypothesized that competition with the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, may be an important factor in the spread of crazy ants. We investigated the potential of interspecific competition among these two introduced ants by measuring interspecific aggression between Caribbean crazy ant workers and workers of Solenopsis invicta. Specifically, we examined the effect of body size and diet on individual-level aggressive interactions among crazy ant workers and fire ants. We found that differences in diet did not alter interactions between crazy ant workers from different nests, but carbohydrate level did play an important role in antagonistic interactions with fire ants: crazy ants on low sugar diets were more aggressive and less likely to be killed in aggressive encounters with fire ants. We found that large fire ants engaged in fewer fights with crazy ants than small fire ants, but fire ant size affected neither fire ant nor crazy ant mortality. Overall, crazy ants experienced higher mortality than fire ants after aggressive encounters. Our findings suggest that fire ant workers might outcompete crazy ant workers on an individual level, providing some biotic resistance to crazy ant range expansion. However, this resistance may be overcome by crazy ants that have a restricted sugar intake, which may occur when crazy ants are excluded from resources by fire ants. PMID:23776702

  9. The effect of diet and opponent size on aggressive interactions involving caribbean crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva).

    PubMed

    Horn, Katherine C; Eubanks, Micky D; Siemann, Evan

    2013-01-01

    Biotic interactions are often important in the establishment and spread of invasive species. In particular, competition between introduced and native species can strongly influence the distribution and spread of exotic species and in some cases competition among introduced species can be important. The Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, was recently introduced to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and appears to be spreading inland. It has been hypothesized that competition with the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, may be an important factor in the spread of crazy ants. We investigated the potential of interspecific competition among these two introduced ants by measuring interspecific aggression between Caribbean crazy ant workers and workers of Solenopsis invicta. Specifically, we examined the effect of body size and diet on individual-level aggressive interactions among crazy ant workers and fire ants. We found that differences in diet did not alter interactions between crazy ant workers from different nests, but carbohydrate level did play an important role in antagonistic interactions with fire ants: crazy ants on low sugar diets were more aggressive and less likely to be killed in aggressive encounters with fire ants. We found that large fire ants engaged in fewer fights with crazy ants than small fire ants, but fire ant size affected neither fire ant nor crazy ant mortality. Overall, crazy ants experienced higher mortality than fire ants after aggressive encounters. Our findings suggest that fire ant workers might outcompete crazy ant workers on an individual level, providing some biotic resistance to crazy ant range expansion. However, this resistance may be overcome by crazy ants that have a restricted sugar intake, which may occur when crazy ants are excluded from resources by fire ants. PMID:23776702

  10. The effect of diet and opponent size on aggressive interactions involving caribbean crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva).

    PubMed

    Horn, Katherine C; Eubanks, Micky D; Siemann, Evan

    2013-01-01

    Biotic interactions are often important in the establishment and spread of invasive species. In particular, competition between introduced and native species can strongly influence the distribution and spread of exotic species and in some cases competition among introduced species can be important. The Caribbean crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva, was recently introduced to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and appears to be spreading inland. It has been hypothesized that competition with the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, may be an important factor in the spread of crazy ants. We investigated the potential of interspecific competition among these two introduced ants by measuring interspecific aggression between Caribbean crazy ant workers and workers of Solenopsis invicta. Specifically, we examined the effect of body size and diet on individual-level aggressive interactions among crazy ant workers and fire ants. We found that differences in diet did not alter interactions between crazy ant workers from different nests, but carbohydrate level did play an important role in antagonistic interactions with fire ants: crazy ants on low sugar diets were more aggressive and less likely to be killed in aggressive encounters with fire ants. We found that large fire ants engaged in fewer fights with crazy ants than small fire ants, but fire ant size affected neither fire ant nor crazy ant mortality. Overall, crazy ants experienced higher mortality than fire ants after aggressive encounters. Our findings suggest that fire ant workers might outcompete crazy ant workers on an individual level, providing some biotic resistance to crazy ant range expansion. However, this resistance may be overcome by crazy ants that have a restricted sugar intake, which may occur when crazy ants are excluded from resources by fire ants.

  11. [Ants: a chemical library of anticancer molecules].

    PubMed

    Vétillard, Angélique; Bouzid, Wafa

    2016-01-01

    Animal venoms are complex mixtures containing simple organic molecules, proteins, peptides, and other bioactive elements with extraordinary biological properties associated with their ability to act on a number of molecular receptors in the process of incapacitating their target organisms. In such a context, arthropod venoms are invaluable sources of bioactive substances, with therapeutic interest but the limited availability of some venom such as those from ants, has restricted the potential that these biomolecules could represent. We investigated for the first time transcriptomic expression from the ant species Tetramorium bicarinatum. Four hundred randomly selected clones from cDNA libraries were sequenced and a total of 374 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were generated. Based on the results of BLAST searches, these sequences were clustered and assembled into 269 contigs. About 72% (269) of these matched BLASTx hits with an interesting diversity and unusual abundance of cellular transcripts (48%) related to gene and protein expression reflecting the specialization of this tissue. In addition, transcripts encoding transposases were relatively highly expressed (14%). It may be that transposable elements are present and that their presence accounts for some of the variation in venom toxins. About twenty per cent of the ESTs were categorized as putative toxins, the major part represented by allergens (48% of the total venom toxins) such as pilosulin 5, sol i 3 and Myp p I and II. Several contigs encoding enzymes, including zinc-metalloproteases (17%) that are likely involved in the processing and activation of venom proteins/peptides, were also identified from the library. In addition, a number of sequences (8%) had no significant similarity to any known sequence which indicates a potential source of for the discovery of new toxins. In order to provide a global insight on the transcripts expressed in the venom gland of the Brazilian ant species Tetramorium

  12. [Ants: a chemical library of anticancer molecules].

    PubMed

    Vétillard, Angélique; Bouzid, Wafa

    2016-01-01

    Animal venoms are complex mixtures containing simple organic molecules, proteins, peptides, and other bioactive elements with extraordinary biological properties associated with their ability to act on a number of molecular receptors in the process of incapacitating their target organisms. In such a context, arthropod venoms are invaluable sources of bioactive substances, with therapeutic interest but the limited availability of some venom such as those from ants, has restricted the potential that these biomolecules could represent. We investigated for the first time transcriptomic expression from the ant species Tetramorium bicarinatum. Four hundred randomly selected clones from cDNA libraries were sequenced and a total of 374 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were generated. Based on the results of BLAST searches, these sequences were clustered and assembled into 269 contigs. About 72% (269) of these matched BLASTx hits with an interesting diversity and unusual abundance of cellular transcripts (48%) related to gene and protein expression reflecting the specialization of this tissue. In addition, transcripts encoding transposases were relatively highly expressed (14%). It may be that transposable elements are present and that their presence accounts for some of the variation in venom toxins. About twenty per cent of the ESTs were categorized as putative toxins, the major part represented by allergens (48% of the total venom toxins) such as pilosulin 5, sol i 3 and Myp p I and II. Several contigs encoding enzymes, including zinc-metalloproteases (17%) that are likely involved in the processing and activation of venom proteins/peptides, were also identified from the library. In addition, a number of sequences (8%) had no significant similarity to any known sequence which indicates a potential source of for the discovery of new toxins. In order to provide a global insight on the transcripts expressed in the venom gland of the Brazilian ant species Tetramorium

  13. The evolution of invasiveness in garden ants.

    PubMed

    Cremer, Sylvia; Ugelvig, Line V; Drijfhout, Falko P; Schlick-Steiner, Birgit C; Steiner, Florian M; Seifert, Bernhard; Hughes, David P; Schulz, Andreas; Petersen, Klaus S; Konrad, Heino; Stauffer, Christian; Kiran, Kadri; Espadaler, Xavier; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Aktaç, Nihat; Eilenberg, Jørgen; Jones, Graeme R; Nash, David R; Pedersen, Jes S; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2008-01-01

    It is unclear why some species become successful invaders whilst others fail, and whether invasive success depends on pre-adaptations already present in the native range or on characters evolving de-novo after introduction. Ants are among the worst invasive pests, with Lasius neglectus and its rapid spread through Europe and Asia as the most recent example of a pest ant that may become a global problem. Here, we present the first integrated study on behavior, morphology, population genetics, chemical recognition and parasite load of L. neglectus and its non-invasive sister species L. turcicus. We find that L. neglectus expresses the same supercolonial syndrome as other invasive ants, a social system that is characterized by mating without dispersal and large networks of cooperating nests rather than smaller mutually hostile colonies. We conclude that the invasive success of L. neglectus relies on a combination of parasite-release following introduction and pre-adaptations in mating system, body-size, queen number and recognition efficiency that evolved long before introduction. Our results challenge the notion that supercolonial organization is an inevitable consequence of low genetic variation for chemical recognition cues in small invasive founder populations. We infer that low variation and limited volatility in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles already existed in the native range in combination with low dispersal and a highly viscous population structure. Human transport to relatively disturbed urban areas thus became the decisive factor to induce parasite release, a well established general promoter of invasiveness in non-social animals and plants, but understudied in invasive social insects. PMID:19050762

  14. The Evolution of Invasiveness in Garden Ants

    PubMed Central

    Cremer, Sylvia; Ugelvig, Line V.; Drijfhout, Falko P.; Schlick-Steiner, Birgit C.; Steiner, Florian M.; Seifert, Bernhard; Hughes, David P.; Schulz, Andreas; Petersen, Klaus S.; Konrad, Heino; Stauffer, Christian; Kiran, Kadri; Espadaler, Xavier; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Aktaç, Nihat; Eilenberg, Jørgen; Jones, Graeme R.; Nash, David R.; Pedersen, Jes S.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2008-01-01

    It is unclear why some species become successful invaders whilst others fail, and whether invasive success depends on pre-adaptations already present in the native range or on characters evolving de-novo after introduction. Ants are among the worst invasive pests, with Lasius neglectus and its rapid spread through Europe and Asia as the most recent example of a pest ant that may become a global problem. Here, we present the first integrated study on behavior, morphology, population genetics, chemical recognition and parasite load of L. neglectus and its non-invasive sister species L. turcicus. We find that L. neglectus expresses the same supercolonial syndrome as other invasive ants, a social system that is characterized by mating without dispersal and large networks of cooperating nests rather than smaller mutually hostile colonies. We conclude that the invasive success of L. neglectus relies on a combination of parasite-release following introduction and pre-adaptations in mating system, body-size, queen number and recognition efficiency that evolved long before introduction. Our results challenge the notion that supercolonial organization is an inevitable consequence of low genetic variation for chemical recognition cues in small invasive founder populations. We infer that low variation and limited volatility in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles already existed in the native range in combination with low dispersal and a highly viscous population structure. Human transport to relatively disturbed urban areas thus became the decisive factor to induce parasite release, a well established general promoter of invasiveness in non-social animals and plants, but understudied in invasive social insects. PMID:19050762

  15. Nectar Theft and Floral Ant-Repellence: A Link between Nectar Volume and Ant-Repellent Traits?

    PubMed Central

    Ballantyne, Gavin; Willmer, Pat

    2012-01-01

    As flower visitors, ants rarely benefit a plant. They are poor pollinators, and can also disrupt pollination by deterring other flower visitors, or by stealing nectar. Some plant species therefore possess floral ant-repelling traits. But why do particular species have such traits when others do not? In a dry forest in Costa Rica, of 49 plant species around a third were ant-repellent at very close proximity to a common generalist ant species, usually via repellent pollen. Repellence was positively correlated with the presence of large nectar volumes. Repellent traits affected ant species differently, some influencing the behaviour of just a few species and others producing more generalised ant-repellence. Our results suggest that ant-repellent floral traits may often not be pleiotropic, but instead could have been selected for as a defence against ant thieves in plant species that invest in large volumes of nectar. This conclusion highlights to the importance of research into the cost of nectar production in future studies into ant-flower interactions. PMID:22952793

  16. Response of Argentine ants and red imported fire ants to permethrin-impregnated plastic strips: foraging rates, colonization of potted soil, and differential mortality.

    PubMed

    Costa, Heather S; Greenberg, Les; Klotz, John; Rust, Michael K

    2005-12-01

    This study investigated the effects of the permethrin-impregnated plastic on ant mortality and foraging rates, and tested its potential for preventing ants from colonizing potted soil. Direct exposure to the plastic for as short as 1 min caused significant mortality of both red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, and Argentine ants, Linepithema humile (Mayr); however, red imported fire ants were more susceptible than Argentine ants. Knockdown of virtually all ants initially occurred within 15 min after exposure. However, some moribund ants recovered from the effects within 24 h. For example, after 1 min of direct exposure to the permethrin-impregnated plastic, 70% of Argentine ants and 5% of red imported fire ants recovered from the treatment. In established colonies of Argentine ants, significantly fewer ants foraged for food up posts treated with the plastic compared with untreated posts. In addition, colonies responded to introduction of the treatment by significantly reducing their overall foraging rates, even on untreated posts. When pots filled with moistened soil were introduced into established ant colonies, 82% of Argentine ants and 99% of red imported fire ants moved into the soil. In contrast, when a 1-cm-wide coil of the plastic was placed under the pot, no ants moved into the soil. The potential for use of these materials in nursery production is discussed. PMID:16539136

  17. Aphid egg protection by ants: a novel aspect of the mutualism between the tree-feeding aphid Stomaphis hirukawai and its attendant ant Lasius productus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Matsuura, Kenji; Yashiro, Toshihisa

    2006-10-01

    Aphids often form mutualistic associations with ants, in which the aphids provide the ants with honeydew and the ants defend the aphids from predators. In this paper, we report aphid egg protection by ants as a novel aspect of the deeply interdependent relationship between a tree-feeding aphid and its attendant ant. The ant Lasius productus harbours oviparous females, males, and eggs of the hinoki cypress-feeding aphid Stomaphis hirukawai in its nests in winter. We investigated the behaviour of ants kept with aphid eggs in petri dishes to examine whether the ants recognise the aphid eggs and tend them or only provide a refuge for the aphids. Workers carried almost all of the aphid eggs into the nest within 24 h. The ants indiscriminately tended aphid eggs collected from their own colonies and those from other ant colonies. The ants cleaned the eggs and piled them up in the nest, and egg tending by ants dramatically increased aphid egg survival rates. Starving the ants showed no significant effect on aphid egg survivorship. Without ants, aphid eggs were rapidly killed by fungi. These results suggested that grooming by the ants protected the aphid eggs, at least, against pathogenic fungi. This hygienic service afforded by the ants seems indispensable for egg survival of these aphids in an environment rich in potentially pathogenic microorganisms.

  18. Eggs of Mallada desjardinsi (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) are protected by ants: the role of egg stalks in ant-tended aphid colonies.

    PubMed

    Hayashi, Masayuki; Nomura, Masashi

    2014-08-01

    In ant-aphid mutualisms, ants usually attack and exclude enemies of aphids. However, larvae of the green lacewing Mallada desjardinsi (Navas) prey on ant-tended aphids without being excluded by ants; these larvae protect themselves from ants by carrying aphid carcasses on their backs. Eggs of M. desjardinsi laid at the tips of stalks have also been observed in ant-tended aphid colonies in the field. Here, we examined whether the egg stalks of M. desjardinsi protect the eggs from ants and predators. When exposed to ants, almost all eggs with intact stalks were untouched, whereas 50-80% of eggs in which stalks had been severed at their bases were destroyed by ants. In contrast, most eggs were preyed upon by larvae of the lacewing Chrysoperla nipponensis (Okamoto), an intraguild predator of M. desjardinsi, regardless of whether their stalks had been severed. These findings suggest that egg stalks provide protection from ants but not from C. nipponensis larvae. To test whether M. desjardinsi eggs are protected from predators by aphid-tending ants, we introduced C. nipponensis larvae onto plants colonized by ant-tended aphids. A significantly greater number of eggs survived in the presence of ants because aphid-tending ants excluded larvae of C. nipponensis. This finding indicates that M. desjardinsi eggs are indirectly protected from predators by ants in ant-tended aphid colonies.

  19. Gamergates in the Australian ant subfamily Myrmeciinae

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dietemann, Vincent; Peeters, Christian; Hölldobler, Bert

    2004-09-01

    Ant workers can mate and reproduce in a few hundreds of species belonging to the phylogenetically basal poneromorph subfamilies (sensu Bolton 2003). We report the first occurrence of gamergates (i.e. mated reproductive workers) in a myrmeciomorph subfamily. In a colony of Myrmecia pyriformis that was collected without a queen, workers continued to be produced over a period of 3 years in the laboratory. Behavioural observations and ovarian dissections indicated that three workers were mated and produced the diploid offspring. The Myrmeciinae are thus another taxon in which the selective benefits of sexual reproduction by workers can be investigated.

  20. Ecology: 'Devil's gardens' bedevilled by ants.

    PubMed

    Frederickson, Megan E; Greene, Michael J; Gordon, Deborah M

    2005-09-22

    'Devil's gardens' are large stands of trees in the Amazonian rainforest that consist almost entirely of a single species, Duroia hirsuta, and, according to local legend, are cultivated by an evil forest spirit. Here we show that the ant Myrmelachista schumanni, which nests in D. hirsuta stems, creates devil's gardens by poisoning all plants except its host plants with formic acid. By killing these other plants, M. schumanni provides its colonies with abundant nest sites--a long-lasting benefit as colonies can live for 800 years.

  1. Enhanced ant colony optimization for multiscale problems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hu, Nan; Fish, Jacob

    2016-03-01

    The present manuscript addresses the issue of computational complexity of optimizing nonlinear composite materials and structures at multiple scales. Several solutions are detailed to meet the enormous computational challenge of optimizing nonlinear structures at multiple scales including: (i) enhanced sampling procedure that provides superior performance of the well-known ant colony optimization algorithm, (ii) a mapping-based meshing of a representative volume element that unlike unstructured meshing permits sensitivity analysis on coarse meshes, and (iii) a multilevel optimization procedure that takes advantage of possible weak coupling of certain scales. We demonstrate the proposed optimization procedure on elastic and inelastic laminated plates involving three scales.

  2. Fecundity and longevity of Argentine ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) queens in response to irradiation

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Irradiation is a postharvest quarantine treatment option to control ants and other hitchhiker pests on fresh horticultural products traded between countries. As little is known about irradiation effects on ants, radiotolerance of the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae...

  3. Current and potential ant impacts in the Pacific region

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Loope, Lloyd L.; Krushelnycky, Paul D.

    2007-01-01

    Worldwide, ants are a powerful ecological force, and they appear to be dominant components of animal communities of many tropical and temperate ecosystems in terms of biomass and numbers of individuals (Bluthgen et al. 2000). For example, ants comprise up to 94% of arthropod individuals in fogging samples taken from diverse lowland tropical rainforest canopies, and 86% of the biomass (Davidson et al. 2003). The majority of these ant species and individuals obtain carbohydrates either from extrafloral nectaries or from sap-feeding Hemiptera that pass carbohydrate-rich “honeydew” to attending ants while concentrating nitrogen (N) from N-poor plant sap (Davidson et al. 2003). Honeydew and nectar represent key resources for arboreal ant species, although most ant species are at least partly carnivorous or scavengers (Bluthgen et al. 2004). In contrast to most of the terrestrial world, the biotas of many Pacific islands evolved without ants. Whereas endemic ant species are found in New Zealand (ca. 10 spp.), Tonga (ca. 10 spp.), and Samoa (ca. 12 spp.), other islands of Polynesia and parts of Micronesia likely lack native ants (Wilson and Taylor 1967, Wetterer 2002, Wetterer and Vargo 2003). About 20 Indo-Australian and western Pacific ant species range to the east and north of Samoa, but it is unclear how many of these were transported there by humans at some time (Wilson and Taylor 1967). Most of the remainder of the ant species currently found on Pacific islands are widespread species that fall in the category of “tramp species,” dispersed by recent human commerce and generally closely tied to human activity and urban areas (Wilson and Taylor 1967, McGlynn 1999). In Pacific island situations, some of these tramp ant species are able to thrive beyond areas of human activity. Relatively few ant species have been successful invaders of native communities on continents, and these include most of the species that pose the greatest problems for Pacific islands

  4. Shape transition during nest digging in ants

    PubMed Central

    Toffin, Etienne; Di Paolo, David; Campo, Alexandre; Detrain, Claire; Deneubourg, Jean-Louis

    2009-01-01

    Nest building in social insects is among the collective processes that show highly conservative features such as basic modules (chambers and galleries) or homeostatic properties. Although ant nests share common characteristics, they exhibit a high structural variability, of which morphogenesis and underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. We conducted two-dimensional nest-digging experiments under homogeneous laboratory conditions to investigate the shape diversity that emerges only from digging dynamics and without the influence of any environmental heterogeneity. These experiments revealed that, during the excavation, a morphological transition occurs because the primary circular cavity evolves into a ramified structure through a branching process. Such a transition is observed, whatever the number of ants involved, but occurs more frequently for a larger number of workers. A stochastic model highlights the central role of density effects in shape transition. These results indicate that nest digging shares similar properties with various physical, chemical, and biological systems. Moreover, our model of morphogenesis provides an explanatory framework for shape transitions in decentralized growing structures in group-living animals. PMID:19846774

  5. Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) as back-seat drivers of localized ant decline in urban habitats.

    PubMed

    Salyer, Adam; Bennett, Gary W; Buczkowski, Grzegorz A

    2014-01-01

    Invasive species and habitat disturbance threaten biodiversity worldwide by modifying ecosystem performance and displacing native organisms. Similar homogenization impacts manifest locally when urbanization forces native species to relocate or reinvade perpetually altered habitat. This study investigated correlations between ant richness and abundance in response to urbanization and the nearby presence of invasive ant species, odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile), within its native region. Surveying localized ant composition within natural, semi-natural, and urban habitat supported efforts to determine whether T. sessile appear to be primary (drivers) threats as instigators or secondary (passengers) threats as inheritors of indigenous ant decline. Sampling 180 sites, evenly split between all habitats with and without T. sessile present, yielded 45 total species. Although urbanization and T. sessile presence factors were significantly linked to ant decline, their interaction correlated to the greatest reduction of total ant richness (74%) and abundance (81%). Total richness appeared to decrease from 27 species to 18 when natural habitat is urbanized and from 18 species to 7 with T. sessile present in urban plots. Odorous house ant presence minimally influenced ant communities within natural and semi-natural habitat, highlighting the importance of habitat alteration and T. sessile presence interactions. Results suggest urbanization releases T. sessile from unknown constraints by decreasing ant richness and competition. Within urban environment, T. sessile are pre-adapted to quickly exploit new resources and grow to supercolony strength wherein T. sessile drive adjacent biodiversity loss. Odorous house ants act as passengers and drivers of ecological change throughout different phases of urban 'invasion'. This progression through surviving habitat alteration, exploiting new resources, thriving, and further reducing interspecific competition supports a "back

  6. Chaos-order transition in foraging behavior of ants.

    PubMed

    Li, Lixiang; Peng, Haipeng; Kurths, Jürgen; Yang, Yixian; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim

    2014-06-10

    The study of the foraging behavior of group animals (especially ants) is of practical ecological importance, but it also contributes to the development of widely applicable optimization problem-solving techniques. Biologists have discovered that single ants exhibit low-dimensional deterministic-chaotic activities. However, the influences of the nest, ants' physical abilities, and ants' knowledge (or experience) on foraging behavior have received relatively little attention in studies of the collective behavior of ants. This paper provides new insights into basic mechanisms of effective foraging for social insects or group animals that have a home. We propose that the whole foraging process of ants is controlled by three successive strategies: hunting, homing, and path building. A mathematical model is developed to study this complex scheme. We show that the transition from chaotic to periodic regimes observed in our model results from an optimization scheme for group animals with a home. According to our investigation, the behavior of such insects is not represented by random but rather deterministic walks (as generated by deterministic dynamical systems, e.g., by maps) in a random environment: the animals use their intelligence and experience to guide them. The more knowledge an ant has, the higher its foraging efficiency is. When young insects join the collective to forage with old and middle-aged ants, it benefits the whole colony in the long run. The resulting strategy can even be optimal. PMID:24912159

  7. Geometry, features, and panoramic views: ants in rectangular arenas.

    PubMed

    Wystrach, Antoine; Cheng, Ken; Sosa, Sebastian; Beugnon, Guy

    2011-10-01

    When tested in rectangular arenas, the navigational behavior of the ant Gigantiops destructor can produce results similar to vertebrates. Such results are usually interpreted as supporting the ability of animals to segregate spatial geometry and features. Here, we combine a detailed analysis of ants' paths with panoramic images taken from the ant's perspective that can serve as a basis for developing view-based matching models. The corner choices observed in ants were better predicted by the use of panoramic views along with a simple matching process [rotational image difference function (rIDF)] than by models assuming segregation of geometry and features (G/F). Our view-based matching model could also explain some aspects of the ants' path (i.e., initial direction, length) resulting from the different visual conditions, suggesting that ants were using such a taxon-like strategy. Analyzed at the individual level, the results show that ants' idiosyncratic paths tend to evolve gradually from trial to trial, revealing that the ants were partially updating their route memory after each trial. This study illustrates the remarkable flexibilities that can arise from the use of taxon-like strategies and stresses the importance of considering them in vertebrates.

  8. 9 CFR 381.71 - Condemnation on ante mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-01-01

    ... Condemnation on ante mortem inspection. (a) Birds plainly showing on ante mortem inspection any disease or condition, that under §§ 381.80 to 381.93, inclusive, would cause condemnation of their carcasses on post... the bird is found to be free of disease. Such a bird found to have recovered from the condition...

  9. ANT COMMUNITIES AND LIVESTOCK GRAZING IN THE GREAT BASIN, USA

    EPA Science Inventory

    The objectives of this study were to determine if metrics for ant species assemblages can be used as indicators of rangeland condition, and to determine the influence of vegetation and ground cover variables, factors often influenced by livestock grazing, on ant communities. The ...

  10. Transgenerational effects and the cost of ant tending in aphids.

    PubMed

    Tegelaar, Karolina; Glinwood, Robert; Pettersson, Jan; Leimar, Olof

    2013-11-01

    In mutualistic interactions, partners obtain a net benefit, but there may also be costs associated with the provision of benefits for a partner. The question of whether aphids suffer such costs when attended by ants has been raised in previous work. Transgenerational effects, where offspring phenotypes are adjusted based on maternal influences, could be important in the mutualistic interaction between aphids and ants, in particular because aphids have telescoping generations where two offspring generations can be present in a mature aphid. We investigated the immediate and transgenerational influence of ant tending on aphid life history and reproduction by observing the interaction between the facultative myrmecophile Aphis fabae and the ant Lasius niger over 13 aphid generations in the laboratory. We found that the effect of ant tending changes dynamically over successive aphid generations after the start of tending. Initially, total aphid colony weight, aphid adult weight and aphid embryo size decreased compared with untended aphids, consistent with a cost of ant association, but these differences disappeared within four generations of interaction. We conclude that transgenerational effects are important in the aphid-ant interactions and that the costs for aphids of being tended by ants can vary over generations.

  11. 9 CFR 352.10 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-01-01

    ..., bison and water buffalo are eligible for field ante-mortem inspection. The field ante-mortem designated... accordance with the provisions contained in 9 CFR 313.2. Immediately after the animal is stunned or killed... unconscious shall be in accordance with 9 CFR 313.15 or 313.16. (6) All stunned/slaughtered and bled...

  12. 9 CFR 352.10 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-01-01

    ..., bison and water buffalo are eligible for field ante-mortem inspection. The field ante-mortem designated... accordance with the provisions contained in 9 CFR 313.2. Immediately after the animal is stunned or killed... unconscious shall be in accordance with 9 CFR 313.15 or 313.16. (6) All stunned/slaughtered and bled...

  13. 9 CFR 352.10 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-01-01

    ..., bison and water buffalo are eligible for field ante-mortem inspection. The field ante-mortem designated... accordance with the provisions contained in 9 CFR 313.2. Immediately after the animal is stunned or killed... unconscious shall be in accordance with 9 CFR 313.15 or 313.16. (6) All stunned/slaughtered and bled...

  14. 9 CFR 352.10 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-01-01

    ..., bison and water buffalo are eligible for field ante-mortem inspection. The field ante-mortem designated... accordance with the provisions contained in 9 CFR 313.2. Immediately after the animal is stunned or killed... unconscious shall be in accordance with 9 CFR 313.15 or 313.16. (6) All stunned/slaughtered and bled...

  15. 9 CFR 352.10 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-01-01

    ..., bison and water buffalo are eligible for field ante-mortem inspection. The field ante-mortem designated... accordance with the provisions contained in 9 CFR 313.2. Immediately after the animal is stunned or killed... unconscious shall be in accordance with 9 CFR 313.15 or 313.16. (6) All stunned/slaughtered and bled...

  16. Chaos-order transition in foraging behavior of ants.

    PubMed

    Li, Lixiang; Peng, Haipeng; Kurths, Jürgen; Yang, Yixian; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim

    2014-06-10

    The study of the foraging behavior of group animals (especially ants) is of practical ecological importance, but it also contributes to the development of widely applicable optimization problem-solving techniques. Biologists have discovered that single ants exhibit low-dimensional deterministic-chaotic activities. However, the influences of the nest, ants' physical abilities, and ants' knowledge (or experience) on foraging behavior have received relatively little attention in studies of the collective behavior of ants. This paper provides new insights into basic mechanisms of effective foraging for social insects or group animals that have a home. We propose that the whole foraging process of ants is controlled by three successive strategies: hunting, homing, and path building. A mathematical model is developed to study this complex scheme. We show that the transition from chaotic to periodic regimes observed in our model results from an optimization scheme for group animals with a home. According to our investigation, the behavior of such insects is not represented by random but rather deterministic walks (as generated by deterministic dynamical systems, e.g., by maps) in a random environment: the animals use their intelligence and experience to guide them. The more knowledge an ant has, the higher its foraging efficiency is. When young insects join the collective to forage with old and middle-aged ants, it benefits the whole colony in the long run. The resulting strategy can even be optimal.

  17. Commercial agrochemical applications in vineyards do not influence ant communities.

    PubMed

    Chong, Chee Seng; Hoffmann, Ary A; Thomson, Linda J

    2007-12-01

    Ants have been widely used as bioindicators for various terrestrial monitoring and assessment programs but are seldom considered in evaluation of nontarget pesticide effect. Much chemical assessment has been biased toward laboratory and bioassay testing for control of specific pest ant species. Several field studies that did explore the nontarget impacts of pesticides on ants have reported contradictory findings. To address the impact of chemical applications on ants, we tested the response of epigeal ant assemblages and community structure to three pesticide gradients (cumulative International Organization for Biological and Integrated Control toxicity rating, chlorpyrifos use rate, and sulfur use rate) in 19 vineyards. Ordination analyses using nonmetric multidimensional scaling detected community structures at species and genus levels, but the structures were not explained by any pesticide variables. There was no consistent pattern in species and genus percentage complementarities and ant assemblages along pesticide gradients. In contrast, ant community structure was influenced by the presence of shelterbelts near the sampling area. Reasons for the resilience of ants to pesticides are given and assessment at the colony level instead of workers abundance is suggested. The presence of Linepithema humile (Mayr) is emphasized. PMID:18284765

  18. Acoustical mimicry in a predatory social parasite of ants.

    PubMed

    Barbero, F; Bonelli, S; Thomas, J A; Balletto, E; Schönrogge, K

    2009-12-01

    Rapid, effective communication between colony members is a key attribute that enables ants to live in dominant, fiercely protected societies. Their signals, however, may be mimicked by other insects that coexist as commensals with ants or interact with them as mutualists or social parasites. We consider the role of acoustics in ant communication and its exploitation by social parasites. Social parasitism has been studied mainly in the butterfly genus Maculinea, the final instar larvae of which are host-specific parasites of Myrmica ants, preying either on ant grubs (predatory Maculinea) or being fed by trophallaxis (cuckoo Maculinea). We found similar significant differences between the stridulations of model queen and worker ant castes in both Myrmica sabuleti and Myrmica scabrinodis to that previously reported for Myrmica schencki. However, the sounds made by queens of all three Myrmica species were indistinguishable, and among workers, stridulations did not differ significantly in two of three species-pairs tested. Sounds recorded from the predatory caterpillars and pupae of Maculinea arion had similar or closer patterns to the acoustics of their host Myrmica sabuleti than those previously reported for the cuckoo Maculinea rebeli and its host Myrmica schencki, even though Maculinea rebeli caterpillars live more intimately with their host. We conclude that chemical mimicry enables Maculinea larvae to be accepted as colony members by worker ants, but that caterpillars and pupae of both predatory and cuckoo butterflies employ acoustical mimicry of queen ant calls to elevate their status towards the highest attainable position within their host's social hierarchy. PMID:19946088

  19. Sucking pump activity in feeding behaviour regulation in carpenter ants.

    PubMed

    Falibene, Agustina; Gontijo, Alberto de Figueiredo; Josens, Roxana

    2009-06-01

    Modulation of liquid feeding-rate would allow insects to ingest more food in the same time when this was required. Ants can vary nectar intake rate by increasing sucking pump frequency according to colony requirements. We analysed electrical signals generated by sucking pump activity of ants during drinking solutions of different sucrose concentrations and under different carbohydrate-deprivation levels. Our aim was to define parameters that characterize the recordings and analyse their relationship with feeding behaviour. Signals showed that the initial and final frequencies of sucking pump activity, as well as the difference between them were higher in sugar-deprived ants. However, these parameters were not influenced by sucrose solution concentration, which affected the number of pump contractions and the volume per contraction. Unexpectedly, we found two different responses in feeding behaviour of starved and non-starved ants depending on concentration. Starved ants drank dilute solutions for the same length of time as non-starved ants but ingested higher volumes. While drinking the concentrated solutions, starved ants drank the same volume, but did so in a shorter time than the non-starved ones. Despite these differences, for each analysed concentration the total number of pump contractions remained constant independently of sugar-deprivation level. These results are discussed in the frame of feeding regulation and decision making in ant foraging behaviour. PMID:19217950

  20. Path efficiency of ant foraging trails in an artificial network.

    PubMed

    Vittori, Karla; Talbot, Grégoire; Gautrais, Jacques; Fourcassié, Vincent; Araújo, Aluizio F R; Theraulaz, Guy

    2006-04-21

    In this paper we present an individual-based model describing the foraging behavior of ants moving in an artificial network of tunnels in which several interconnected paths can be used to reach a single food source. Ants lay a trail pheromone while moving in the network and this pheromone acts as a system of mass recruitment that attracts other ants in the network. The rules implemented in the model are based on measures of the decisions taken by ants at tunnel bifurcations during real experiments. The collective choice of the ants is estimated by measuring their probability to take a given path in the network. Overall, we found a good agreement between the results of the simulations and those of the experiments, showing that simple behavioral rules can lead ants to find the shortest paths in the network. The match between the experiments and the model, however, was better for nestbound than for outbound ants. A sensitivity study of the model suggests that the bias observed in the choice of the ants at asymmetrical bifurcations is a key behavior to reproduce the collective choice observed in the experiments. PMID:16199059

  1. The hyper-cube framework for ant colony optimization.

    PubMed

    Blum, Christian; Dorigo, Marco

    2004-04-01

    Ant colony optimization is a metaheuristic approach belonging to the class of model-based search algorithms. In this paper, we propose a new framework for implementing ant colony optimization algorithms called the hyper-cube framework for ant colony optimization. In contrast to the usual way of implementing ant colony optimization algorithms, this framework limits the pheromone values to the interval [0,1]. This is obtained by introducing changes in the pheromone value update rule. These changes can in general be applied to any pheromone value update rule used in ant colony optimization. We discuss the benefits coming with this new framework. The benefits are twofold. On the theoretical side, the new framework allows us to prove that in Ant System, the ancestor of all ant colony optimization algorithms, the average quality of the solutions produced increases in expectation over time when applied to unconstrained problems. On the practical side, the new framework automatically handles the scaling of the objective function values. We experimentally show that this leads on average to a more robust behavior of ant colony optimization algorithms. PMID:15376861

  2. Microbiota associated with tramp ants in a Brazilian University Hospital.

    PubMed

    Teixeira, Maxelle M; Pelli, Afonso; Santos, Vitorino M Dos; Reis, Maria das G

    2009-01-01

    Our aim was to study the fauna of ants in the Hospital Universitário of the Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro, municipality of Uberaba, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, as well as to identify the microorganisms the ants carry and their patterns of resistance to antibiotics. Sterile tubes (traps) containing honey were used to attract the ants. Traps were exposed for 3h, and those which attracted ants were considered the test group, while the ones that did not attract the insects constituted the control group. Only the ant species Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius) was sampled. Sixty microorganisms were isolated from the sampled ants, including seven Gram-positive bacilli, 14 Gram-negative bacilli, 22 Gram-positive cocci and 17 filamentous fungi. Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and Group D Streptococcus were the microorganisms with the highest resistance to the tested antibiotics. The ants should be considered an important vector of infections as they carry several pathogenic microorganisms, spreading them on the surface of sterile materials, equipment and uncontaminated food. It is impossible to define the exact role of ants in nosocomial infections at this moment; however, this issue must be better studied and special attention must be given by the commissions of Nosocomial Infection Control.

  3. Dynamics and shape of large fire ant rafts

    PubMed Central

    Mlot, Nathan J.; Tovey, Craig; Hu, David L.

    2012-01-01

    To survive floods, fire ants link their bodies together to build waterproof rafts. Such rafts can be quite large, exceeding 100,000 individuals in size. In this study, we make two improvements on a previously reported model on the construction rate of rafts numbering between 3,000 and 10,000 individuals. That model was based upon experimental observations of randomly-directed linear ant trajectories atop the raft. Here, we report anomalous behavior of ants atop larger rafts of up to 23,000 ants. As rafts increase in size, the behavior of ants approaches diffusion, which is in closer alignment with other studies on the foraging and scouting patterns of ants. We incorporate this ant behavior into the model. Our modified model predicts more accurately the growth of large rafts. Our previous model also relied on an assumption of raft circularity. We show that this assumption is not necessary for large rafts, because it follows from the random directionality of the ant trajectories. Our predicted relationship between raft size and circularity closely fits experimental data. PMID:23336030

  4. Colony-level impacts of parasitoid flies on fire ants.

    PubMed Central

    Mehdiabadi, Natasha J; Gilbert, Lawrence E

    2002-01-01

    The red imported fire ant is becoming a global ecological problem, having invaded the United States, Puerto Rico, New Zealand and, most recently, Australia. In its established areas, this pest is devastating natural biodiversity. Early attempts to halt fire ant expansion with pesticides actually enhanced its spread. Phorid fly parasitoids from South America have now been introduced into the United States as potential biological control agents of the red imported fire ant, but the impact of these flies on fire ant populations is currently unknown. In the laboratory, we show that an average phorid density of as little as one attacking fly per 200 foraging ants decreased colony protein consumption nearly twofold and significantly reduced numbers of large-sized workers 50 days later. The high impact of a single phorid occurred mainly because ants decreased foraging rates in the presence of the flies. Our experiments, the first (to our knowledge) to link indirect and direct effects of phorids on fire ants, demonstrate that colonies can be stressed with surprisingly low parasitoid densities. We interpret our findings with regard to the more complex fire ant-phorid interactions in the field. PMID:12204130

  5. Do long-lived ants affect soil microbial communities?

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    This study was designed to test the hypothesis that desert ant species that build nests that remain viable at a particular point in space for more than a decade produce soil conditions that enhance microbial biomass and functional diversity. We studied the effects of a seed-harvester ant, Pogonomyrm...

  6. Sucking pump activity in feeding behaviour regulation in carpenter ants.

    PubMed

    Falibene, Agustina; Gontijo, Alberto de Figueiredo; Josens, Roxana

    2009-06-01

    Modulation of liquid feeding-rate would allow insects to ingest more food in the same time when this was required. Ants can vary nectar intake rate by increasing sucking pump frequency according to colony requirements. We analysed electrical signals generated by sucking pump activity of ants during drinking solutions of different sucrose concentrations and under different carbohydrate-deprivation levels. Our aim was to define parameters that characterize the recordings and analyse their relationship with feeding behaviour. Signals showed that the initial and final frequencies of sucking pump activity, as well as the difference between them were higher in sugar-deprived ants. However, these parameters were not influenced by sucrose solution concentration, which affected the number of pump contractions and the volume per contraction. Unexpectedly, we found two different responses in feeding behaviour of starved and non-starved ants depending on concentration. Starved ants drank dilute solutions for the same length of time as non-starved ants but ingested higher volumes. While drinking the concentrated solutions, starved ants drank the same volume, but did so in a shorter time than the non-starved ones. Despite these differences, for each analysed concentration the total number of pump contractions remained constant independently of sugar-deprivation level. These results are discussed in the frame of feeding regulation and decision making in ant foraging behaviour.

  7. Horned lizards (Phrynosoma) incapacitate dangerous ant prey with mucus.

    PubMed

    Sherbrooke, Wade C; Schwenk, Kurt

    2008-10-01

    Horned lizards (Iguanidae, Phrynosomatinae, Phrynosoma) are morphologically specialized reptiles characterized by squat, tank-like bodies, short limbs, blunt snouts, spines and cranial horns, among other traits. They are unusual among lizards in the degree to which they specialize on a diet of ants, but exceptional in the number of pugnacious, highly venomous, stinging ants they consume, especially harvester ants (genus Pogonomyrmex). Like other iguanian lizards, they capture insect prey on the tongue, but unlike other lizards, they neither bite nor chew dangerous prey before swallowing. Instead, they employ a unique kinematic pattern in which prey capture, transport and swallowing are combined. Nevertheless, horned lizards consume dozens of harvester ants without harm. We show that their derived feeding kinematics are associated with unique, mucus-secreting pharyngeal papillae that apparently serve to immobilize and incapacitate dangerous ants as they are swallowed by compacting them and binding them in mucus strands. Radially branched esophageal folds provide additional mucus-secreting surfaces the ants pass through as they are swallowed. Ants extracted from fresh-killed horned lizard stomachs are curled ventrally into balls and bound in mucus. We conclude that the pharyngeal papillae, in association with a unique form of hyolingual prey transport and swallowing, are horned lizard adaptations related to a diet of dangerous prey. Harvester ant defensive weapons, along with horned lizard adaptations against such weapons, suggest a long-term, predator-prey, co-evolutionary arms race between Phrynosoma and Pogonomyrmex.

  8. Improved ant algorithms for software testing cases generation.

    PubMed

    Yang, Shunkun; Man, Tianlong; Xu, Jiaqi

    2014-01-01

    Existing ant colony optimization (ACO) for software testing cases generation is a very popular domain in software testing engineering. However, the traditional ACO has flaws, as early search pheromone is relatively scarce, search efficiency is low, search model is too simple, positive feedback mechanism is easy to produce the phenomenon of stagnation and precocity. This paper introduces improved ACO for software testing cases generation: improved local pheromone update strategy for ant colony optimization, improved pheromone volatilization coefficient for ant colony optimization (IPVACO), and improved the global path pheromone update strategy for ant colony optimization (IGPACO). At last, we put forward a comprehensive improved ant colony optimization (ACIACO), which is based on all the above three methods. The proposed technique will be compared with random algorithm (RND) and genetic algorithm (GA) in terms of both efficiency and coverage. The results indicate that the improved method can effectively improve the search efficiency, restrain precocity, promote case coverage, and reduce the number of iterations.

  9. Eavesdropping on cooperative communication within an ant-butterfly mutualism

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Elgar, Mark A.; Nash, David R.; Pierce, Naomi E.

    2016-10-01

    Signalling is necessary for the maintenance of interspecific mutualisms but is vulnerable to exploitation by eavesdropping. While eavesdropping of intraspecific signals has been studied extensively, such exploitation of interspecific signals has not been widely documented. The juvenile stages of the Australian lycaenid butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, form an obligate association with several species of attendant ants, including Iridomyrmex mayri. Ants protect the caterpillars and pupae, and in return are rewarded with nutritious secretions. Female and male adult butterflies use ants as signals for oviposition and mate searching, respectively. Our experiments reveal that two natural enemies of J. evagoras, araneid spiders and braconid parasitoid wasps, exploit ant signals as cues for increasing their foraging and oviposition success, respectively. Intriguingly, selection through eavesdropping is unlikely to modify the ant signal.

  10. Ecological consequences of traffic organisation in ant societies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Burd, Martin

    2006-12-01

    Many species of ants engage in social foraging in which traffic develops over pathways defined by pheromones or physical roads cleared through debris. Worker ants from the same colony have a common underlying evolutionary interest in their collective performance. Thus, ant traffic makes an interesting comparison to other kinds of cellular or organismal traffic composed of elements with varying degrees of shared or disparate goals. Recent studies have revealed how small-scale interactions among ants amplify to create large-scale traffic structure, such as segregation of counterflows. However, much less is known about the ecological costs and benefits of different kinds of traffic organization. The common assumption that maximum traffic flux provides maximum ecological benefit needs closer scrutiny. Ant traffic provides a potentially useful model system for experimental study of crowd panics, and for assessing the role of transport networks in creating scaling relationships between the size and activity rates of the entities they serve.

  11. Improved Ant Algorithms for Software Testing Cases Generation

    PubMed Central

    Yang, Shunkun; Xu, Jiaqi

    2014-01-01

    Existing ant colony optimization (ACO) for software testing cases generation is a very popular domain in software testing engineering. However, the traditional ACO has flaws, as early search pheromone is relatively scarce, search efficiency is low, search model is too simple, positive feedback mechanism is easy to porduce the phenomenon of stagnation and precocity. This paper introduces improved ACO for software testing cases generation: improved local pheromone update strategy for ant colony optimization, improved pheromone volatilization coefficient for ant colony optimization (IPVACO), and improved the global path pheromone update strategy for ant colony optimization (IGPACO). At last, we put forward a comprehensive improved ant colony optimization (ACIACO), which is based on all the above three methods. The proposed technique will be compared with random algorithm (RND) and genetic algorithm (GA) in terms of both efficiency and coverage. The results indicate that the improved method can effectively improve the search efficiency, restrain precocity, promote case coverage, and reduce the number of iterations. PMID:24883391

  12. An ant colony algorithm on continuous searching space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xie, Jing; Cai, Chao

    2015-12-01

    Ant colony algorithm is heuristic, bionic and parallel. Because of it is property of positive feedback, parallelism and simplicity to cooperate with other method, it is widely adopted in planning on discrete space. But it is still not good at planning on continuous space. After a basic introduction to the basic ant colony algorithm, we will propose an ant colony algorithm on continuous space. Our method makes use of the following three tricks. We search for the next nodes of the route according to fixed-step to guarantee the continuity of solution. When storing pheromone, it discretizes field of pheromone, clusters states and sums up the values of pheromone of these states. When updating pheromone, it makes good resolutions measured in relative score functions leave more pheromone, so that ant colony algorithm can find a sub-optimal solution in shorter time. The simulated experiment shows that our ant colony algorithm can find sub-optimal solution in relatively shorter time.

  13. The origin of the attine ant-fungus mutualism.

    PubMed

    Mueller, U G; Schultz, T R; Currie, C R; Adams, R M; Malloch, D

    2001-06-01

    Cultivation of fungus for food originated about 45-65 million years ago in the ancestor of fungus-growing ants (Formicidae, tribe Attini), representing an evolutionary transition from the life of a hunter-gatherer of arthropod prey, nectar, and other plant juices, to the life of a farmer subsisting on cultivated fungi. Seven hypotheses have been suggested for the origin of attine fungiculture, each differing with respect to the substrate used by the ancestral attine ants for fungal cultivation. Phylogenetic information on the cultivated fungi, in conjunction with information on the nesting biology of extant attine ants and their presumed closest relatives, reveal that the attine ancestors probably did not encounter their cultivars-to-be in seed stores (von Ihering 1894), in rotting wood (Forel 1902), as mycorrhizae (Garling 1979), on arthropod corpses (von Ihering 1894) or ant faeces in nest middens (Wheeler 1907). Rather, the attine ant-fungus mutualism probably arose from adventitious interactions with fungi that grew on walls of nests built in leaf litter (Emery 1899), or from a system of fungal myrmecochory in which specialized fungi relied on ants for dispersal (Bailey 1920) and in which the ants fortuitously vectored these fungi from parent to offspring nests prior to a true fungicultural stage. Reliance on fungi as a dominant food source has evolved only twice in ants: first in the attine ants, and second in some ant species in the solenopsidine genus Megalomyrmex that either coexist as trophic parasites in gardens of attine hosts or aggressively usurp gardens from them. All other known ant-fungus associations are either adventitious or have nonnutritional functions (e.g., strengthening of carton-walls in ant nests). There exist no unambiguous reports of facultative mycophagy in ants, but such trophic ant-fungus interactions would most likely occur underground or in leaf litter and thus escape easy observation. Indirect evidence of fungivory can be deduced

  14. The rise of army ants and their relatives: diversification of specialized predatory doryline ants

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Army ants are dominant invertebrate predators in tropical and subtropical terrestrial ecosystems. Their close relatives within the dorylomorph group of ants are also highly specialized predators, although much less is known about their biology. We analyzed molecular data generated from 11 nuclear genes to infer a phylogeny for the major dorylomorph lineages, and incorporated fossil evidence to infer divergence times under a relaxed molecular clock. Results Because our results indicate that one subfamily and several genera of dorylomorphs are non-monophyletic, we propose to subsume the six previous dorylomorph subfamilies into a single subfamily, Dorylinae. We find the monophyly of Dorylinae to be strongly supported and estimate the crown age of the group at 87 (74–101) million years. Our phylogenetic analyses provide only weak support for army ant monophyly and also call into question a previous hypothesis that army ants underwent a fundamental split into New World and Old World lineages. Outside the army ants, our phylogeny reveals for the first time many old, distinct lineages in the Dorylinae. The genus Cerapachys is shown to be non-monophyletic and comprised of multiple lineages scattered across the Dorylinae tree. We recover, with strong support, novel relationships among these Cerapachys-like clades and other doryline genera, but divergences in the deepest parts of the tree are not well resolved. We find the genus Sphinctomyrmex, characterized by distinctive abdominal constrictions, to consist of two separate lineages with convergent morphologies, one inhabiting the Old World and the other the New World tropics. Conclusions While we obtain good resolution in many parts of the Dorylinae phylogeny, relationships deep in the tree remain unresolved, with major lineages joining each other in various ways depending upon the analytical method employed, but always with short internodes. This may be indicative of rapid radiation in the early history of

  15. Testing baits to control Argentine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in vineyards.

    PubMed

    Daane, Kent M; Cooper, Monica L; Sime, Karen R; Nelson, Erik H; Battany, Mark C; Rust, Michael K

    2008-06-01

    Liquid baits were evaluated for control of the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), and associated mealybug and soft scale pests in California vineyards. In 2003, liquid baits with small doses ofimidacloprid, boric acid, or thiamethoxam dissolved in 25% sucrose water resulted in lower ant and mealybug densities and fruit damage, compared with an untreated control. Similar treatments in a soft scale-infested vineyard showed only a reduction of ant density and fruit infestation in only the boric acid and thiamethoxam treatments. In 2004, commercial and noncommercial formulations of liquid baits reduced ant densities in three separate trials, but they had inconsistent effects on mealybug densities and fruit infestation; granular protein bait had no effect. Using large plots and commercial application methodologies, liquid bait deployed in June resulted in lower ant density and fruit infestation, but it had no effect on mealybug density. Across all trials, liquid bait treatments resulted in lower ant density (12 of 14 trials) and fruit damage (11 of 14 sites), presenting the first report of liquid baits applied using commercial methodologies that resulted in a reduction of ants and their associated hemipteran crop damage. For commercialization of liquid baits, we showed that any of the tested insecticides can suppress Argentine ants when properly delivered in the crop system. For imidacloprid, bait dispensers must be protected from sunlight to reduce photodegradation. Results suggest that incomplete ant suppression can suppress mealybug densities. However, after ant populations are suppressed, there may be a longer period before hemipteran populations are effectively suppressed. Therefore, liquid baits should be considered part of a multiseason program rather than a direct, in-season control of hemipteran pest populations.

  16. Overview of the Distribution, Habitat Association and Impact of Exotic Ants on Native Ant Communities in New Caledonia

    PubMed Central

    Berman, Maïa; Andersen, Alan N.; Hély, Christelle; Gaucherel, Cédric

    2013-01-01

    Ants are among the most ubiquitous and harmful invaders worldwide, but there are few regional studies of their relationships with habitat and native ant communities. New Caledonia has a unique and diverse ant fauna that is threatened by exotic ants, but broad-scale patterns of exotic and native ant community composition in relation to habitat remain poorly documented. We conducted a systematic baiting survey of 56 sites representing the main New Caledonian habitat types: rainforest on ultramafic soils (15 sites), rainforest on volcano-sedimentary soils (13), maquis shrubland (15), Melaleuca-dominated savannas (11) and Acacia spirorbis thickets (2). We collected a total of 49 species, 13 of which were exotic. Only five sites were free of exotic species, and these were all rainforest. The five most abundant exotic species differed in their habitat association, with Pheidole megacephala associated with rainforests, Brachymyrmex cf. obscurior with savanna, and Wasmannia auropunctata and Nylanderia vaga present in most habitats. Anoplolepis gracilipes occurred primarily in maquis-shrubland, which contrasts with its rainforest affinity elsewhere. Multivariate analysis of overall ant species composition showed strong differentiation of sites according to the distribution of exotic species, and these patterns were maintained at the genus and functional group levels. Native ant composition differed at invaded versus uninvaded rainforest sites, in the absence of differences in habitat variables. Generalised Myrmicinae and Forest Opportunists were particularly affected by invasion. There was a strong negative relationship between the abundance of W. auropunctata and native ant abundance and richness. This emphasizes that, in addition to dominating many ant communities numerically, some exotic species, and in particular W. auropunctata, have a marked impact on native ant communities. PMID:23840639

  17. Testing the effects of ant invasions on non-ant arthropods with high-resolution taxonomic data.

    PubMed

    Hanna, Cause; Naughton, Ida; Boser, Christina; Holway, David

    2015-10-01

    Invasions give rise to a wide range of ecological effects. Many invasions proceed without noticeable impacts on the resident biota, whereas others shift species composition and even alter ecosystem function. Ant invasions generate a broad spectrum of ecological effects, but controversy surrounds the extent of these impacts, especially with regard to how other arthropods are affected. This uncertainty in part results from the widespread use of low-resolution taxonomic data, which can mask the presence of other introduced species and make it difficult to isolate the effects of ant invasions on native species. Here, we use high-resolution taxonomic data to examine the effects of Argentine ant invasions on arthropods on Santa Cruz Island, California. We sampled arthropods in eight pairs of invaded and uninvaded plots and then collaborated with taxonomic experts to identify taxa in four focal groups: spiders, bark lice, beetles, and ants. Spiders, bark lice, and beetles made up ~40% of the 9868 non-ant arthropod individuals sampled; the majority of focal group arthropods were putatively native taxa. Although our results indicate strong negative effects of the Argentine ant on native ants, as is well documented, invaded and uninvaded plots did not differ with respect to the richness, abundance, or species composition of spiders, bark lice, and beetles. One common, introduced species of bark louse was more common in uninvaded plots than in invaded plots, and including this species into our analyses changed the relationship between bark louse richness vs. L. humile abundance from no relationship to a significant negative relationship. This case illustrates how failure to differentiate native and introduced taxa can lead to erroneous conclusions about the effects of ant invasions. Our results caution against unqualified assertions about the effects of ant invasions on non-ant arthropods, and more generally demonstrate that accurate assessments of invasion impacts depend on

  18. Testing the effects of ant invasions on non-ant arthropods with high-resolution taxonomic data.

    PubMed

    Hanna, Cause; Naughton, Ida; Boser, Christina; Holway, David

    2015-10-01

    Invasions give rise to a wide range of ecological effects. Many invasions proceed without noticeable impacts on the resident biota, whereas others shift species composition and even alter ecosystem function. Ant invasions generate a broad spectrum of ecological effects, but controversy surrounds the extent of these impacts, especially with regard to how other arthropods are affected. This uncertainty in part results from the widespread use of low-resolution taxonomic data, which can mask the presence of other introduced species and make it difficult to isolate the effects of ant invasions on native species. Here, we use high-resolution taxonomic data to examine the effects of Argentine ant invasions on arthropods on Santa Cruz Island, California. We sampled arthropods in eight pairs of invaded and uninvaded plots and then collaborated with taxonomic experts to identify taxa in four focal groups: spiders, bark lice, beetles, and ants. Spiders, bark lice, and beetles made up ~40% of the 9868 non-ant arthropod individuals sampled; the majority of focal group arthropods were putatively native taxa. Although our results indicate strong negative effects of the Argentine ant on native ants, as is well documented, invaded and uninvaded plots did not differ with respect to the richness, abundance, or species composition of spiders, bark lice, and beetles. One common, introduced species of bark louse was more common in uninvaded plots than in invaded plots, and including this species into our analyses changed the relationship between bark louse richness vs. L. humile abundance from no relationship to a significant negative relationship. This case illustrates how failure to differentiate native and introduced taxa can lead to erroneous conclusions about the effects of ant invasions. Our results caution against unqualified assertions about the effects of ant invasions on non-ant arthropods, and more generally demonstrate that accurate assessments of invasion impacts depend on

  19. Overview of the Distribution, Habitat Association and Impact of Exotic Ants on Native Ant Communities in New Caledonia.

    PubMed

    Berman, Maïa; Andersen, Alan N; Hély, Christelle; Gaucherel, Cédric

    2013-01-01

    Ants are among the most ubiquitous and harmful invaders worldwide, but there are few regional studies of their relationships with habitat and native ant communities. New Caledonia has a unique and diverse ant fauna that is threatened by exotic ants, but broad-scale patterns of exotic and native ant community composition in relation to habitat remain poorly documented. We conducted a systematic baiting survey of 56 sites representing the main New Caledonian habitat types: rainforest on ultramafic soils (15 sites), rainforest on volcano-sedimentary soils (13), maquis shrubland (15), Melaleuca-dominated savannas (11) and Acacia spirorbis thickets (2). We collected a total of 49 species, 13 of which were exotic. Only five sites were free of exotic species, and these were all rainforest. The five most abundant exotic species differed in their habitat association, with Pheidole megacephala associated with rainforests, Brachymyrmex cf. obscurior with savanna, and Wasmannia auropunctata and Nylanderia vaga present in most habitats. Anoplolepis gracilipes occurred primarily in maquis-shrubland, which contrasts with its rainforest affinity elsewhere. Multivariate analysis of overall ant species composition showed strong differentiation of sites according to the distribution of exotic species, and these patterns were maintained at the genus and functional group levels. Native ant composition differed at invaded versus uninvaded rainforest sites, in the absence of differences in habitat variables. Generalised Myrmicinae and Forest Opportunists were particularly affected by invasion. There was a strong negative relationship between the abundance of W. auropunctata and native ant abundance and richness. This emphasizes that, in addition to dominating many ant communities numerically, some exotic species, and in particular W. auropunctata, have a marked impact on native ant communities.

  20. Ultraviolet radiation as an ant repellent

    SciTech Connect

    Thorvilson, H.G.; Russell, S.A.; Green, B.; Gransberg, D.

    1996-12-31

    In an effort to repel red imported fire ants (RIFA) from electrical devices, such as transformers, ultraviolet (UV) light was tested. Initial tests determined if RIFA`s tolerate a UV-irradiated environment when given a choice between UV-irradiated and non-irradiated. All replications in this test indicated that RIFA`s are intolerant of UV-irradiation and sought to escape it. RIFA`s moved to shaded environments and transported their brood out its well. A second test sought to determine if long-term UV-irradiation of the entire colonies cause increased RIFA mortality. Queenright colonies were exposed to UV irradiation of 254nm constantly for 115 days and colonies had a higher mortality rate than did a control colony. RIFA`s attempted to escape UV light and had increased rate when exposed to UV (254nm), but a practical application of this technique may be detrimental to insulation on electrical wiring.

  1. Stable isotope and elemental analysis in ants.

    PubMed

    Smith, Chris R; Tillberg, Chadwick V

    2009-07-01

    Over the past 20 yr, the use of stable isotopes to infer feeding ecology and the examination of how energetic and elemental exchanges are affected by and affect life (ecological stoichiometry) have gained momentum. The ecological diversity of ants makes them interesting models to explore dietary ecology and their role in food webs. Moreover, their ecological dominance in most habitats facilitates sampling. The protocol described here will produce samples adequate for submission to most labs that specialize in high-throughput analysis of stable isotopes; one should check with any particular lab for specific submission instructions. Note, however, that this protocol is designed specifically for the quantification of the natural abundance of stable isotopes; it does not cover the preparation of trace samples. PMID:20147207

  2. Chimpanzees detect ant-inhabited dead branches and stems: a study of the utilization of plant-ant relationships in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania.

    PubMed

    Fuse, Mieko

    2013-10-01

    Chimpanzees in the Mahale Mountains of Tanzania consume several species of stem- and branch-inhabiting ants throughout the year, without tools. Those ants are cryptic species, and it was unknown how to find them constantly. There has been little research on how the chimpanzees locate these ants. In this study, I use behavioral observations of the chimpanzee predators and surveys of the ant fauna and plants across different habitats to test the hypothesis that chimpanzees use plant species as a cue to efficiently locate ant colonies in litter units (dead parts of the plant). Ants were found to be associated with live plants and with spaces within litter units which provide nesting places. Such ant-plant litter relationships were not necessarily as strong as the mutualism often observed between live plants and ants. The proportion of available litter units inhabited by ants was 20 %, and litter units of three plant species (Vernonia subligera, Dracaena usambarensis, and Senna spectabilis) were well occupied by ants in the home range of the chimpanzees. The ant-inhabited ratio in chimpanzee-foraged litter units was higher than that in the available units in the home range. Chimpanzees fed more often on Crematogaster spp. than on other resident ants and at a higher rate than expected from their occurrence in the litter units. Above three plant species were well occupied by Crematogaster sp. 3 or C. sp. 18. It is concluded that chimpanzees locate ants by selecting litter units of plant species inhabited by ants.

  3. Ant Foraging As an Indicator of Tropical Dry Forest Restoration.

    PubMed

    Hernández-Flores, J; Osorio-Beristain, M; Martínez-Garza, C

    2016-08-01

    Variation in foraging behavior may indicate differences in food availability and allow assessment of restoration actions. Ants are prominent bioindicators used in assessing ecological responses to disturbance. However, behavioral data have been poorly incorporated as an index. The foraging performance of red harvester ants was quantified in order to evaluate the success of a restoration ecology experiment in the tropical dry forest of Sierra de Huautla, Morelos, in central Mexico. Foraging performance by granivorous, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, ants was diminished after 6 and 8 years of cattle grazing and wood harvest were excluded as part of a restoration experiment in a highly degraded biome. Despite investing more time in foraging, ant colonies in exclusion plots showed lower foraging success and acquired less seed biomass than colonies in control plots. In line with the predictions of optimal foraging theory, in restored plots where ant foraging performance was poor, ants harvested a higher diversity of seeds. Reduced foraging success and increased harvest of non-preferred foods in exclusion plots were likely due to the growth of herbaceous vegetation, which impedes travel by foragers. Moreover, by 8 years of exclusion, 37% of nests in exclusion plots had disappeared compared to 0% of nests in control plots. Ants' foraging success and behavior were sensitive to changes in habitat quality due to the plant successional process triggered by a restoration intervention. This study spotlights on the utility of animal foraging behavior in the evaluation of habitat restoration programs.

  4. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world

    PubMed Central

    Patterson, Courtney M.; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A.; Ribbons, Relena R.; Dunn, Robert R.; Sanders, Nathan J.

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed. PMID:24688863

  5. Species richness, equitability, and abundance of ants in disturbed landscapes

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Graham, J.H.; Krzysik, A.J.; Kovacic, D.A.; Duda, J.J.; Freeman, D.C.; Emlen, J.M.; Zak, J.C.; Long, W.R.; Wallace, M.P.; Chamberlin-Graham, C.; Nutter, J.P.; Balbach, H.E.

    2009-01-01

    Ants are used as indicators of environmental change in disturbed landscapes, often without adequate understanding of their response to disturbance. Ant communities in the southeastern United States displayed a hump-backed species richness curve against an index of landscape disturbance. Forty sites at Fort Benning, in west-central Georgia, covered a spectrum of habitat disturbance (military training and fire) in upland forest. Sites disturbed by military training had fewer trees, less canopy cover, more bare ground, and warmer, more compact soils with shallower A-horizons. We sampled ground-dwelling ants with pitfall traps, and measured 15 habitat variables related to vegetation and soil. Ant species richness was greatest with a relative disturbance of 43%, but equitability was greatest with no disturbance. Ant abundance was greatest with a relative disturbance of 85%. High species richness at intermediate disturbance was associated with greater within-site spatial heterogeneity. Species richness was also associated with intermediate values of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a correlate of net primary productivity (NPP). Available NPP (the product of NDVI and the fraction of days that soil temperature exceeded 25 ??C), however, was positively correlated with species richness, though not with ant abundance. Species richness was unrelated to soil texture, total ground cover, and fire frequency. Ant species richness and equitability are potential state indicators of the soil arthropod community. Moreover, equitability can be used to monitor ecosystem change. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd.

  6. USING ANT COMMUNITIES FOR RAPID ASSESSMENT OF TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEM HEALTH

    SciTech Connect

    Wike, L; Doug Martin, D; Michael Paller, M; Eric Nelson, E

    2007-01-12

    Ecosystem health with its near infinite number of variables is difficult to measure, and there are many opinions as to which variables are most important, most easily measured, and most robust, Bioassessment avoids the controversy of choosing which physical and chemical parameters to measure because it uses responses of a community of organisms that integrate all aspects of the system in question. A variety of bioassessment methods have been successfully applied to aquatic ecosystems using fish and macroinvertebrate communities. Terrestrial biotic index methods are less developed than those for aquatic systems and we are seeking to address this problem here. This study had as its objective to examine the baseline differences in ant communities at different seral stages from clear cut back to mature pine plantation as a precursor to developing a bioassessment protocol. Comparative sampling was conducted at four seral stages; clearcut, 5 year, 15 year and mature pine plantation stands. Soil and vegetation data were collected at each site. All ants collected were preserved in 70% ethyl alcohol and identified to genus. Analysis of the ant data indicates that ants respond strongly to the habitat changes that accompany ecological succession in managed pine forests and that individual genera as well as ant community structure can be used as an indicator of successional change. Ants exhibited relatively high diversity in both early and mature seral stages. High ant diversity in the mature seral stages was likely related to conditions on the forest floor which favored litter dwelling and cool climate specialists.

  7. Stridulations Reveal Cryptic Speciation in Neotropical Sympatric Ants

    PubMed Central

    Ferreira, Ronara Souza; Poteaux, Chantal; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Fresneau, Dominique; Rybak, Fanny

    2010-01-01

    The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species underlines the importance of using multiple criteria in species delimitation. In the current paper we tested the use of acoustic analysis as a tool to assess the real diversity in a cryptic species complex of Neotropical ants. In order to understand the potential of acoustics and to improve consistency in the conclusions by comparing different approaches, phylogenetic relationships of all the morphs considered were assessed by the analysis of a fragment of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b. We observed that each of the cryptic morph studied presents a morphologically distinct stridulatory organ and that all sympatric morphs produce distinctive stridulations. This is the first evidence of such a degree of specialization in the acoustic organ and signals in ants, which suggests that stridulations may be among the cues used by these ants during inter-specific interactions. Mitochondrial DNA variation corroborated the acoustic differences observed, confirming acoustics as a helpful tool to determine cryptic species in this group of ants, and possibly in stridulating ants in general. Congruent morphological, acoustic and genetic results constitute sufficient evidence to propose each morph studied here as a valid new species, suggesting that P. apicalis is a complex of at least 6 to 9 species, even if they present different levels of divergence. Finally, our results highlight that ant stridulations may be much more informative than hitherto thought, as much for ant communication as for integrative taxonomists. PMID:21203529

  8. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants

    PubMed Central

    Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B.; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated. PMID:26539724

  9. Cotton Rats Alter Foraging in Response to an Invasive Ant

    PubMed Central

    Darracq, Andrea K.; Conner, L. Mike; Brown, Joel S.; McCleery, Robert A.

    2016-01-01

    We assessed the effects of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta; hereafter fire ant) on the foraging of hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus). We used a manipulative experiment, placing resource patches with a known amount of millet seed within areas with reduced (RIFA [–]) or ambient (RIFA [+]) numbers of fire ants. We measured giving up densities (the amount of food left within each patch) within the resource patches for 4 days to quantify the effects of fire ants on cotton rat foraging. We assessed the effects of fire ant treatment (RIFA), Day, and their interaction on cotton rat giving up densities. Giving up densities on RIFA [+] grids were nearly 2.2 times greater across all foraging days and ranged from 1.6 to 2.3 times greater from day 1 to day 4 than the RIFA [–] grids. From day 1 to day 4, mean giving up densities decreased significantly faster for the RIFA [–] than RIFA [+] treatments, 58% and 13%, respectively. Our results demonstrate that cotton rats perceive a risk of injury from fire ants, which is likely caused by interference competition, rather than direct predation. Envenomation from ants likely decrease the foraging efficiency of cotton rats resulting in more time spent foraging. Increased time spent foraging is likely stressful in terms of the opportunity for direct injury and encounters with other predators. These indirect effects may reduce an individual cotton rat’s fitness and translate into lowered population abundances. PMID:27655320

  10. Wasps robbing food from ants: a frequent behavior?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lapierre, Louis; Hespenheide, Henry; Dejean, Alain

    2007-12-01

    Food robbing, or cleptobiosis, has been well documented throughout the animal kingdom. For insects, intrafamilial food robbing is known among ants, but social wasps (Vespidae; Polistinae) taking food from ants has, to the best of our knowledge, never been reported. In this paper, we present two cases involving social wasps robbing food from ants associated with myrmecophytes. (1) Polybioides tabida F. (Ropalidiini) rob pieces of prey from Tetraponera aethiops Smith (Formicidae; Pseudomyrmecinae) specifically associated with Barteria fistulosa Mast. (Passifloraceae). (2) Charterginus spp. (Epiponini) rob food bodies from myrmecophytic Cecropia (Cecropiaceae) exploited by their Azteca mutualists (Formicidae; Dolichoderinae) or by opportunistic ants (that also attack cleptobiotic wasps). We note here that wasps gather food bodies (1) when ants are not yet active; (2) when ants are active, but avoiding any contact with them by flying off when attacked; and (3) through the coordinated efforts of two to five wasps, wherein one of them prevents the ants from leaving their nest, while the other wasps freely gather the food bodies. We suggest that these interactions are more common than previously thought.

  11. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants.

    PubMed

    Pless, Evlyn; Queirolo, Jovel; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated. PMID:26539724

  12. Newly discovered sister lineage sheds light on early ant evolution

    PubMed Central

    Rabeling, Christian; Brown, Jeremy M.; Verhaagh, Manfred

    2008-01-01

    Ants are the world's most conspicuous and important eusocial insects and their diversity, abundance, and extreme behavioral specializations make them a model system for several disciplines within the biological sciences. Here, we report the discovery of a new ant that appears to represent the sister lineage to all extant ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). The phylogenetic position of this cryptic predator from the soils of the Amazon rainforest was inferred from several nuclear genes, sequenced from a single leg. Martialis heureka (gen. et sp. nov.) also constitutes the sole representative of a new, morphologically distinct subfamily of ants, the Martialinae (subfam. nov.). Our analyses have reduced the likelihood of long-branch attraction artifacts that have troubled previous phylogenetic studies of early-diverging ants and therefore solidify the emerging view that the most basal extant ant lineages are cryptic, hypogaeic foragers. On the basis of morphological and phylogenetic evidence we suggest that these specialized subterranean predators are the sole surviving representatives of a highly divergent lineage that arose near the dawn of ant diversification and have persisted in ecologically stable environments like tropical soils over great spans of time. PMID:18794530

  13. A model for collective dynamics in ant raids.

    PubMed

    Ryan, Shawn D

    2016-05-01

    Ant raiding, the process of identifying and returning food to the nest or bivouac, is a fascinating example of collective motion in nature. During such raids ants lay pheromones to form trails for others to find a food source. In this work a coupled PDE/ODE model is introduced to study ant dynamics and pheromone concentration. The key idea is the introduction of two forms of ant dynamics: foraging and returning, each governed by different environmental and social cues. The model accounts for all aspects of the raiding cycle including local collisional interactions, the laying of pheromone along a trail, and the transition from one class of ants to another. Through analysis of an order parameter measuring the orientational order in the system, the model shows self-organization into a collective state consisting of lanes of ants moving in opposite directions as well as the transition back to the individual state once the food source is depleted matching prior experimental results. This indicates that in the absence of direct communication ants naturally form an efficient method for transporting food to the nest/bivouac. The model exhibits a continuous kinetic phase transition in the order parameter as a function of certain system parameters. The associated critical exponents are found, shedding light on the behavior of the system near the transition. PMID:26304617

  14. Learning and perceptual similarity among cuticular hydrocarbons in ants.

    PubMed

    Bos, Nick; Dreier, Stephanie; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; Guerrieri, Fernando J; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2012-01-01

    Nestmate recognition in ants is based on perceived differences in a multi-component blend of hydrocarbons that are present on the insect cuticle. Although supplementation experiments have shown that some classes of hydrocarbons, such as methyl branched alkanes and alkenes, have a salient role in nestmate recognition, there was basically no information available on how ants detect and perceive these molecules. We used a new conditioning procedure to investigate whether individual carpenter ants could associate a given hydrocarbon (linear or methyl-branched alkane) to sugar reward. We then studied perceptual similarity between a hydrocarbon previously associated with sugar and a novel hydrocarbon. Ants learnt all hydrocarbon-reward associations rapidly and with the same efficiency, regardless of the structure of the molecules. Ants could discriminate among a large number of pairs of hydrocarbons, but also generalised. Generalisation depended both on the structure of the molecule and the animal's experience. For linear alkanes, generalisation was observed when the novel molecule was smaller than the conditioned one. Generalisation between pairs of methyl-alkanes was high, while generalisation between hydrocarbons that differed in the presence or absence of a methyl group was low, suggesting that chain length and functional group might be coded independently by the ant olfactory system. Understanding variations in perception of recognition cues in ants is necessary for the general understanding of the mechanisms involved in social recognition processes based on chemical cues. PMID:22067290

  15. Ant Foraging As an Indicator of Tropical Dry Forest Restoration.

    PubMed

    Hernández-Flores, J; Osorio-Beristain, M; Martínez-Garza, C

    2016-08-01

    Variation in foraging behavior may indicate differences in food availability and allow assessment of restoration actions. Ants are prominent bioindicators used in assessing ecological responses to disturbance. However, behavioral data have been poorly incorporated as an index. The foraging performance of red harvester ants was quantified in order to evaluate the success of a restoration ecology experiment in the tropical dry forest of Sierra de Huautla, Morelos, in central Mexico. Foraging performance by granivorous, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, ants was diminished after 6 and 8 years of cattle grazing and wood harvest were excluded as part of a restoration experiment in a highly degraded biome. Despite investing more time in foraging, ant colonies in exclusion plots showed lower foraging success and acquired less seed biomass than colonies in control plots. In line with the predictions of optimal foraging theory, in restored plots where ant foraging performance was poor, ants harvested a higher diversity of seeds. Reduced foraging success and increased harvest of non-preferred foods in exclusion plots were likely due to the growth of herbaceous vegetation, which impedes travel by foragers. Moreover, by 8 years of exclusion, 37% of nests in exclusion plots had disappeared compared to 0% of nests in control plots. Ants' foraging success and behavior were sensitive to changes in habitat quality due to the plant successional process triggered by a restoration intervention. This study spotlights on the utility of animal foraging behavior in the evaluation of habitat restoration programs. PMID:27252407

  16. Patterns of Positive Selection in Seven Ant Genomes

    PubMed Central

    Roux, Julien; Privman, Eyal; Moretti, Sébastien; Daub, Josephine T.; Robinson-Rechavi, Marc; Keller, Laurent

    2014-01-01

    The evolution of ants is marked by remarkable adaptations that allowed the development of very complex social systems. To identify how ant-specific adaptations are associated with patterns of molecular evolution, we searched for signs of positive selection on amino-acid changes in proteins. We identified 24 functional categories of genes which were enriched for positively selected genes in the ant lineage. We also reanalyzed genome-wide data sets in bees and flies with the same methodology to check whether positive selection was specific to ants or also present in other insects. Notably, genes implicated in immunity were enriched for positively selected genes in the three lineages, ruling out the hypothesis that the evolution of hygienic behaviors in social insects caused a major relaxation of selective pressure on immune genes. Our scan also indicated that genes implicated in neurogenesis and olfaction started to undergo increased positive selection before the evolution of sociality in Hymenoptera. Finally, the comparison between these three lineages allowed us to pinpoint molecular evolution patterns that were specific to the ant lineage. In particular, there was ant-specific recurrent positive selection on genes with mitochondrial functions, suggesting that mitochondrial activity was improved during the evolution of this lineage. This might have been an important step toward the evolution of extreme lifespan that is a hallmark of ants. PMID:24782441

  17. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants.

    PubMed

    Pless, Evlyn; Queirolo, Jovel; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated.

  18. Learning and perceptual similarity among cuticular hydrocarbons in ants.

    PubMed

    Bos, Nick; Dreier, Stephanie; Jørgensen, Charlotte G; Nielsen, John; Guerrieri, Fernando J; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2012-01-01

    Nestmate recognition in ants is based on perceived differences in a multi-component blend of hydrocarbons that are present on the insect cuticle. Although supplementation experiments have shown that some classes of hydrocarbons, such as methyl branched alkanes and alkenes, have a salient role in nestmate recognition, there was basically no information available on how ants detect and perceive these molecules. We used a new conditioning procedure to investigate whether individual carpenter ants could associate a given hydrocarbon (linear or methyl-branched alkane) to sugar reward. We then studied perceptual similarity between a hydrocarbon previously associated with sugar and a novel hydrocarbon. Ants learnt all hydrocarbon-reward associations rapidly and with the same efficiency, regardless of the structure of the molecules. Ants could discriminate among a large number of pairs of hydrocarbons, but also generalised. Generalisation depended both on the structure of the molecule and the animal's experience. For linear alkanes, generalisation was observed when the novel molecule was smaller than the conditioned one. Generalisation between pairs of methyl-alkanes was high, while generalisation between hydrocarbons that differed in the presence or absence of a methyl group was low, suggesting that chain length and functional group might be coded independently by the ant olfactory system. Understanding variations in perception of recognition cues in ants is necessary for the general understanding of the mechanisms involved in social recognition processes based on chemical cues.

  19. Stridulations reveal cryptic speciation in neotropical sympatric ants.

    PubMed

    Ferreira, Ronara Souza; Poteaux, Chantal; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Fresneau, Dominique; Rybak, Fanny

    2010-12-22

    The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species underlines the importance of using multiple criteria in species delimitation. In the current paper we tested the use of acoustic analysis as a tool to assess the real diversity in a cryptic species complex of Neotropical ants. In order to understand the potential of acoustics and to improve consistency in the conclusions by comparing different approaches, phylogenetic relationships of all the morphs considered were assessed by the analysis of a fragment of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b. We observed that each of the cryptic morph studied presents a morphologically distinct stridulatory organ and that all sympatric morphs produce distinctive stridulations. This is the first evidence of such a degree of specialization in the acoustic organ and signals in ants, which suggests that stridulations may be among the cues used by these ants during inter-specific interactions. Mitochondrial DNA variation corroborated the acoustic differences observed, confirming acoustics as a helpful tool to determine cryptic species in this group of ants, and possibly in stridulating ants in general. Congruent morphological, acoustic and genetic results constitute sufficient evidence to propose each morph studied here as a valid new species, suggesting that P. apicalis is a complex of at least 6 to 9 species, even if they present different levels of divergence. Finally, our results highlight that ant stridulations may be much more informative than hitherto thought, as much for ant communication as for integrative taxonomists.

  20. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world.

    PubMed

    Stuble, Katharine L; Patterson, Courtney M; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A; Ribbons, Relena R; Dunn, Robert R; Sanders, Nathan J

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed. PMID:24688863

  1. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world.

    PubMed

    Stuble, Katharine L; Patterson, Courtney M; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A; Ribbons, Relena R; Dunn, Robert R; Sanders, Nathan J

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed.

  2. Trail pheromone disruption of red imported fire ant.

    PubMed

    Suckling, David M; Stringer, Lloyd D; Bunn, Barry; El-Sayed, Ashraf M; Vander Meer, Robert K

    2010-07-01

    The fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), is considered one of the most aggressive and invasive species in the world. Toxic bait systems are used widely for control, but they also affect non-target ant species and cannot be used in sensitive ecosystems such as organic farms and national parks. The fire ant uses recruitment pheromones to organize the retrieval of large food resources back to the colony, with Z,E-alpha-farnesene responsible for the orientation of workers along trails. We prepared Z,E-alpha-farnesene, (91% purity) from extracted E,E-alpha-farnesene and demonstrated disruption of worker trail orientation after presentation of an oversupply of this compound from filter paper point sources (30 microg). Trails were established between queen-right colony cells and food sources in plastic tubs. Trail-following behavior was recorded by overhead webcam, and ants were digitized before and after presentation of the treatment, using two software approaches. The linear regression statistic, r(2) was calculated. Ants initially showed high linear trail integrity (r(2) = 0.75). Within seconds of presentation of the Z,E-alpha-farnesene treatment, the trailing ants showed little or no further evidence of trail following behavior in the vicinity of the pheromone source. These results show that trailing fire ants become disorientated in the presence of large amounts of Z,E-alpha-farnesene. Disrupting fire ant recruitment to resources may have a negative effect on colony size or other effects yet to be determined. This phenomenon was demonstrated recently for the Argentine ant, where trails were disrupted for two weeks by using their formulated trail pheromone, Z-9-hexadecenal. Further research is needed to establish the long term effects and control potential for trail disruption in S. invicta.

  3. The Molecular Clockwork of the Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta

    PubMed Central

    Ingram, Krista K.; Kutowoi, Alexander; Wurm, Yannick; Shoemaker, DeWayne; Meier, Rudolf; Bloch, Guy

    2012-01-01

    The circadian clock is a core molecular mechanism that allows organisms to anticipate daily environmental changes and adapt the timing of behaviors to maximize efficiency. In social insects, the