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Iridoids and volatile pheromones of Tapinoma darioi ants: chemical differences to the closely related species Tapinoma magnum

  • D. D’Eustacchio
  • M. Centorame
  • A. Fanfani
  • G. Senczuk
  • G. H. Jiménez-Alemán
  • A. Vasco-Vidal
  • Y. Méndez
  • A. Ehrlich
  • L. Wessjohann
  • A. FranciosoEmail author
Original Article


Tapinoma species, and more general dolichoderine ants, are able to produce a variety of volatile compounds they use as chemical defense, alarm, and communication pheromones. Among these, iridoids and volatile ketones are the predominant molecule classes produced by the anal glands of these ants. A recent taxonomic revision of the genus Tapinoma in Europe revealed that the supercolonial species Tapinoma nigerrimum consists of a complex of four cryptic species. Two of them, Tapinoma magnum and the newly described Tapinoma darioi, are closely related species that evolutionary diverged recently. In this work, we determine and characterize the chemical profile of pheromones and volatile compounds of two Tapinoma species. From a chemical point of view, T. darioi and T. magnum show both qualitative and quantitative differences in the pheromones produced, supporting the taxonomic revision of the T. nigerrimum complex. Our data confirm T. darioi and T. magnum as separate species also from a biochemical point of view demonstrating the value of chemotaxonomy as a suitable tool for integrative studies of species differentiation even for closely related taxa.



We want to thank Prof. Wilhelm Boland and Nanxia Fu (Max Planck institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany) for the technical support and for kindly providing Phaedon cochlearia extract. A.F. and L.W. acknowledge partial support by the Leibniz association through a Leibniz-DAAD postdoctoral fellowship to A. F. With this work, we continued an investigation started a few years ago with our colleague and brother Dario D’Eustacchio. His research led to the identification of a new Tapinoma ant species that later was named Tapinoma darioi in his honor, after he tragically passed away on the 14th of October of 2014 at the age of 35. This investigation has been carried out with no specific dedicated funding or grants (other than the travel grant to Germany) and was exclusively driven by the pure scientific passion, curiosity, and love for nature and for discovery, unique features of our dear friend Dario. This paper is dedicated to him and to his memory, still alive in our hearts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. D’Eustacchio
    • 1
  • M. Centorame
    • 1
  • A. Fanfani
    • 1
  • G. Senczuk
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. H. Jiménez-Alemán
    • 3
    • 7
  • A. Vasco-Vidal
    • 4
    • 5
  • Y. Méndez
    • 4
    • 5
  • A. Ehrlich
    • 4
  • L. Wessjohann
    • 4
  • A. Francioso
    • 4
    • 6
    Email author return OK on get
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Biotechnology “Charles Darwin”Sapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Museum of Natural History, Section of Zoology ‘La Specola’University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.Department of Bioorganic ChemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany
  4. 4.Department of Bioorganic ChemistryLeibniz Institute of Plant BiochemistryHalleGermany
  5. 5.Center for Natural Products Research, Faculty of ChemistryUniversity of La HabanaHabanaCuba
  6. 6.Department of BiochemistrySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  7. 7.Department Genética Molecular de PlantasCentro Nacional de Biotecnologia-CSICMadridSpain

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