Evidence from Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy (MIRS) that the biochemical fingerprints of Odontotermes obesus colonies change according to their geographical location and age
In this study, we used Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy (MIRS) to analyze the biochemical fingerprints of nine termite colonies (soldiers, minor and major workers). We then examined whether these spectra could be used to differentiate termite colonies and if their differences could be explained by the geographical distances between colonies and/or their ages. We demonstrated that when only data from the heads of minor workers were considered, the specific fingerprint of each colony appeared to reflect its coordinate position in the study site. However, termite mound height, a proxy for colony age, was the main factor governing these signatures when data from the abdomen of major workers were used. Thus, this study shows the potential of MIRS for differentiating termite colonies in the field. It also highlights the close relationship between the physiological states of termite colonies and their environment.
KeywordsTermite Mounds Niche construction Extended phenotype India
Data from this study were partially obtained from the ALYSES facility (IRD-UPMC) which was supported by grants from Région Ile de France. The Mule Hole basin is part of the ORE-BVET project (Observatoire de Recherche en Environnement—Bassin Versant Expérimentaux Tropicaux, http://bvet.omp.obs-mip.fr/index. php/eng/) supported by the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), CNRS and Toulouse University. The project also benefited from funding from the Indo-French Cell for Water Science (LMI CEFIRSE, http://www.cefirse.ird.fr) and the Réseau des Bassins Versants (RBV, http://rnbv.ipgp.fr/). We thank the Karnataka Forest Department and the staff of the Bandipur National Park for all the facilities and support they provided.
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