Article

Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 478-486

(E,E)-α-Farnesene, an Alarm Pheromone of the Termite Prorhinotermes canalifrons

  • Jan ŠobotníkAffiliated withInstitute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i.Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles-CP 160/12
  • , Robert HanusAffiliated withInstitute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i. Email author 
  • , Blanka KalinováAffiliated withInstitute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i.
  • , Rafal PiskorskiAffiliated withInstitute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i.
  • , Josef CvačkaAffiliated withInstitute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i.
  • , Thomas BourguignonAffiliated withBehavioural and Evolutionary Ecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles-CP 160/12
  • , Yves RoisinAffiliated withBehavioural and Evolutionary Ecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles-CP 160/12

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Abstract

The behavioral and electroantennographic responses of Prorhinotermes canalifrons to its soldier frontal gland secretion, and two separated major components of the secretion, (E)-1-nitropentadec-1-ene and (E,E)-α-farnesene, were studied in laboratory experiments. Behavioral experiments showed that both the frontal gland secretion and (E,E)-α-farnesene triggered alarm reactions in P. canalifrons, whereas (E)-1-nitropentadec-1-ene did not affect the behavior of termite groups. The alarm reactions were characterized by rapid walking of activated termites and efforts to alert and activate other members of the group. Behavioral responses to alarm pheromone differed between homogeneous and mixed groups, suggesting complex interactions. Antennae of both soldiers and pseudergates were sensitive to the frontal gland secretion and to (E,E)-α-farnesene, but soldiers showed stronger responses. The dose responses to (E,E)-α-farnesene were identical for both soldiers and pseudergates, suggesting that both castes use similar receptors to perceive (E,E)-α-farnesene. Our data confirm (E,E)-α-farnesene as an alarm pheromone of P. canalifrons.

Keywords

Alarm behavior Alarm pheromone (E,E)-α-farnesene Chemical communication Termites EAG Isoptera Rhinotermitidae