Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 335–344

Evidence for diglycerides as attractants in an ant-seed interaction

  • D. L. Marshall
  • A. J. Beattie
  • W. E. Bollenbacher


The chemical basis of an ant-seed interaction was investigated for the antAphaenogaster rudis and the ant-dispersed violetViola odorata. A laboratory behavioral bioassay was developed to chemically identify the attractant responsible for the interaction. The ant attractant, localized in the elaiosome, was classified as a lipid by both field and laboratory bioassays. Assays of partially purified lipid extracts revealed that the principal attractant may be a diglyceride. Gas-liquid chromatography analysis of the hydrolyzed diglyceride fraction revealed oleic acid as the major fatty acid present, suggesting that either 1,2- or 1,3-diolein may be the attractant. Structure-activity correlations for lipid standards demonstrated a clear preference for the diglyceride 1,2-diolein. The data also suggest that ricinoleic acid is not the lipid eliciting the ant response toViola odorata, as had been previously suggested.

Key words

Hymenoptera Formicidae Aphaenogaster rudis ant behavior diglyceride elaiosome myrmecochory Viola odorata 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. L. Marshall
    • 2
  • A. J. Beattie
    • 2
  • W. E. Bollenbacher
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of TexasAustin
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesNorthwestern UniversityEvanston

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