Advertisement

Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 75–80 | Cite as

Sucrose acceptance threshold: a way to measure sugar perception in ants

  • A. Falibene
  • R. JosensEmail author
Research Article

Abstract

Variation in the perception of sweet taste is a well-known phenomenon in the animal kingdom. Well-established protocols for measuring sucrose responsiveness in non-social insects and honeybees have made it possible to understand many aspects of their biology and behaviour. Ants are also advanced social insects that present a plethora of life histories with diverse strategies and behaviours; however, a universal paradigm possible to measure this response in different ant species has not yet been developed. Here, we present a protocol for measuring the sucrose acceptance threshold (SAT) under controlled conditions in harnessed ants with different feeding habits. By testing the response to antennal and palp sucrose stimulation and using the occurrence of licking as the response, we developed a non-ambiguous evaluation that allowed easy detection of threshold changes. The results showed that the response to both antennal and palp stimulation varied widely among species. Some species licked in response to antennal stimulation while others did so in response to palp stimulation. Using the appropriate kind of stimulation, we tested the SAT protocol in ants of different genera and ants of the same species with different levels of sugar reserve. The differences detected in both cases imply that the protocol is appropriate for measuring and detecting variations in sugar perception in ants.

Keywords

Ants Sucrose responsiveness Taste Response threshold Licking behaviour 

Abbreviations

SAT

Sucrose acceptance threshold

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank two anonymous referees for comments to improve the manuscript. We thank María Agustina Lopez for her help with the experiment. This work was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina and the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion (PICT 1319). This work complies with the current laws of the countries in which it was performed.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (WMV 4435 kb)

References

  1. Edgecomb B.Y., Murdock L.L., Smith A.B. and Stephen M.D. 1987. Regulation of tarsal taste threshold in the blowfly, Phormia regina. J. Exp. Biol. 127: 79-94Google Scholar
  2. Guerrieri F.J. and d′Ettorre P. 2010. Associative learning in ants: Conditioning of the maxilla-labium extension response in Camponotus aethiops. J. Insect Physiol. 56: 88-92Google Scholar
  3. Josens R. and Roces F. 2000. Foraging in the ant Camponotus mus: nectar-intake rate and crop filling depend on colony starvation. J. Insect Physiol. 46: 1103-1110Google Scholar
  4. Kay A. 2002. Applying optimal foraging theory to assess nutrient availability ratios for ants. Ecology 83: 1935-1944Google Scholar
  5. Kay A. 2004. The relative availabilities of complementary resources affect the feeding preferences of ant colonies. Behav. Ecol. 15: 63-70Google Scholar
  6. Martinez A. and Farina W.M. 2008. Honeybees modify gustatory responsiveness after receiving nectar from foragers within the hive. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 62: 529-535Google Scholar
  7. Menzel R. 1999. Memory dynamics in the honeybee. J. Comp. Physiol. A 185: 323-340Google Scholar
  8. Page R.E., Erber J. and Fondrk M.K. 1998. The effect of genotype on response thresholds to sucrose and foraging behavior of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). J. Comp. Physiol. A 182: 489-500Google Scholar
  9. Pankiw T. and Page R.E. 1999. The effect of genotype, age, and caste on response thresholds to sucrose and foraging behavior of honey bees. J. Comp. Physiol. A 185: 207–213Google Scholar
  10. Pankiw T. and Page R.E. 2000. Response thresholds to sucrose predicts foraging division of labor in honey bees. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 47: 265-267Google Scholar
  11. Pankiw T., Waddington K.D. and Page R.E. 2001. Modulation of sucrose response thresholds in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.): influence of genotype, feeding, and foraging experience. J. Comp. Physiol. A 187: 293-301Google Scholar
  12. Pankiw T., Nelson M., Page R.E. and Fondrk M.K. 2004. The communal crop: modulation of sucrose response thresholds of pre-foraging honey bees with incoming nectar quality. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 55: 286-292Google Scholar
  13. Paul J. and Roces F. 2003. Fluid intake rates in ants correlate with their feeding habits. J. Insect Physiol. 49: 347-357Google Scholar
  14. Scheiner R., Sokolowski M.B. and Erber J. 2004. Activity of cGMP-dependent Protein Kinase (PKG) affects sucrose responsiveness and habituation in Drosophila melanogaster. Learn. Memory 11: 303-311Google Scholar
  15. Sokal R.R. and Rohlf F.J. 2000. Biometry: the Principles and Practice of Statistics in Biological Research. New York: State University of New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Sudlow L.C., Edgecomb R.S. and Murdock L.L. 1987. Regulation of labellar and tarsal taste thresholds in the black blowfly, Phormia regina. J. Exp. Biol. 130: 219-234Google Scholar
  17. Wada A., Isobe Y., Yamaguchi S., Yamaoka R. and Ozaki M. 2001. Taste-enhancing effects of glycine on the sweetness of glucose: a gustatory aspect of symbiosis between the ant, Camponotus japonicus, and the larvae of the lycaenid butterfly, Niphanda fusca. Chem. Senses 26: 983-992Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grupo de Estudio de Insectos Sociales, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental, IFIBYNE-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Pab. II, Ciudad UniversitariaBuenos AiresArgentina

Personalised recommendations