Conserved male-specific cuticular hydrocarbon patterns in the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus brunneus

Abstract

Cuticular hydrocarbons have been identified as the source of sex-recognition signals for many insects, but for social insects, specifically ants, cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of males are often ignored. This study reports male-specific cuticular hydrocarbon patterns for the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus brunneus. Analysis of samples from four Florida populations demonstrated that male-specific overabundance of four hydrocarbons is conserved across populations despite population-level divergence of the remainder of the profile. In addition, hydrocarbon patterns unique to adult males were not present on the cuticle of final instar male larvae, indicating that male-specific profiles arise late in development. The pattern of an abundant subset of conserved cuticular hydrocarbons characteristic of males across divergent populations was compared to earlier findings of the conservation of fertility signals of females across these same populations.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Walter R. Tschinkel, Joshua R. King, Bill Wills, and Fred Larabee for collection assistance. The Archbold Biological Station, the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, and Seminole County provided access and permission to collect at our field sites. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Adrian A. Smith.

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Handling Editor Kerstin Reifenrath.

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Smith, A.A., Vanderpool, W., Millar, J.G. et al. Conserved male-specific cuticular hydrocarbon patterns in the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus brunneus . Chemoecology 24, 29–34 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00049-013-0143-0

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Keywords

  • Pheromone
  • Sex pheromone
  • Male signal
  • Phenotypic variation