Queen-specific signals and worker punishment in the ant Aphaenogaster cockerelli: The role of the Dufour's gland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Chemical communication between reproductives and subordinates within social insects is fundamental to maintaining colony organization. Cuticular hydrocarbons are thought to be the dominant source of fertility signals among ants; however, differences found within the Dufour's glands could also serve as fertility signals. We investigated the function of the queen Dufour's gland in Aphaenogaster cockerelli, an ant species in which cuticular hydrocarbon profiles serve as fertility signals. The queen's Dufour's gland contents distinguish her from all other members of the colony. When she encounters a competing reproductive worker she uses her gland to mark the worker, inducing punishment from nestmates. We show that only the queen's Dufour's gland can induce the observed amount of aggression. The Dufour's gland and the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of A. cockerelli queens are both queen-specific signals, but they have different functions. The cuticular hydrocarbon profile advertises the fertility status of queens, while the Dufour's gland elicits directed-nestmate aggression towards reproductive workers. Our study also points out striking similarities in the use of the Dufour's gland that span several subfamilies and forms of colony organization in ants, leading to a task separation of queen-specific signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-593
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume83
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Fingerprint

Aphaenogaster
Dufour's gland
queen insects
ant
hydrocarbons
fertility
hydrocarbon
Formicidae
aggression
social insect
social insects
worker ants
communication

Keywords

  • Ant
  • Aphaenogaster cockerelli
  • Cuticular hydrocarbon
  • Dufour's gland
  • Punishment
  • Queen policing
  • Queen signal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Queen-specific signals and worker punishment in the ant Aphaenogaster cockerelli : The role of the Dufour's gland. / Smith, Adrian A.; Hoelldobler, Berthold; Liebig, Juergen.

In: Animal Behaviour, Vol. 83, No. 3, 03.2012, p. 587-593.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{e34bbe91c121482983314d3acfe7e86b,
title = "Queen-specific signals and worker punishment in the ant Aphaenogaster cockerelli: The role of the Dufour's gland",
abstract = "Chemical communication between reproductives and subordinates within social insects is fundamental to maintaining colony organization. Cuticular hydrocarbons are thought to be the dominant source of fertility signals among ants; however, differences found within the Dufour's glands could also serve as fertility signals. We investigated the function of the queen Dufour's gland in Aphaenogaster cockerelli, an ant species in which cuticular hydrocarbon profiles serve as fertility signals. The queen's Dufour's gland contents distinguish her from all other members of the colony. When she encounters a competing reproductive worker she uses her gland to mark the worker, inducing punishment from nestmates. We show that only the queen's Dufour's gland can induce the observed amount of aggression. The Dufour's gland and the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of A. cockerelli queens are both queen-specific signals, but they have different functions. The cuticular hydrocarbon profile advertises the fertility status of queens, while the Dufour's gland elicits directed-nestmate aggression towards reproductive workers. Our study also points out striking similarities in the use of the Dufour's gland that span several subfamilies and forms of colony organization in ants, leading to a task separation of queen-specific signals.",
keywords = "Ant, Aphaenogaster cockerelli, Cuticular hydrocarbon, Dufour's gland, Punishment, Queen policing, Queen signal",
author = "Smith, {Adrian A.} and Berthold Hoelldobler and Juergen Liebig",
year = "2012",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.12.024",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "83",
pages = "587--593",
journal = "Animal Behaviour",
issn = "0003-3472",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Queen-specific signals and worker punishment in the ant Aphaenogaster cockerelli

T2 - The role of the Dufour's gland

AU - Smith, Adrian A.

AU - Hoelldobler, Berthold

AU - Liebig, Juergen

PY - 2012/3

Y1 - 2012/3

N2 - Chemical communication between reproductives and subordinates within social insects is fundamental to maintaining colony organization. Cuticular hydrocarbons are thought to be the dominant source of fertility signals among ants; however, differences found within the Dufour's glands could also serve as fertility signals. We investigated the function of the queen Dufour's gland in Aphaenogaster cockerelli, an ant species in which cuticular hydrocarbon profiles serve as fertility signals. The queen's Dufour's gland contents distinguish her from all other members of the colony. When she encounters a competing reproductive worker she uses her gland to mark the worker, inducing punishment from nestmates. We show that only the queen's Dufour's gland can induce the observed amount of aggression. The Dufour's gland and the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of A. cockerelli queens are both queen-specific signals, but they have different functions. The cuticular hydrocarbon profile advertises the fertility status of queens, while the Dufour's gland elicits directed-nestmate aggression towards reproductive workers. Our study also points out striking similarities in the use of the Dufour's gland that span several subfamilies and forms of colony organization in ants, leading to a task separation of queen-specific signals.

AB - Chemical communication between reproductives and subordinates within social insects is fundamental to maintaining colony organization. Cuticular hydrocarbons are thought to be the dominant source of fertility signals among ants; however, differences found within the Dufour's glands could also serve as fertility signals. We investigated the function of the queen Dufour's gland in Aphaenogaster cockerelli, an ant species in which cuticular hydrocarbon profiles serve as fertility signals. The queen's Dufour's gland contents distinguish her from all other members of the colony. When she encounters a competing reproductive worker she uses her gland to mark the worker, inducing punishment from nestmates. We show that only the queen's Dufour's gland can induce the observed amount of aggression. The Dufour's gland and the cuticular hydrocarbon profile of A. cockerelli queens are both queen-specific signals, but they have different functions. The cuticular hydrocarbon profile advertises the fertility status of queens, while the Dufour's gland elicits directed-nestmate aggression towards reproductive workers. Our study also points out striking similarities in the use of the Dufour's gland that span several subfamilies and forms of colony organization in ants, leading to a task separation of queen-specific signals.

KW - Ant

KW - Aphaenogaster cockerelli

KW - Cuticular hydrocarbon

KW - Dufour's gland

KW - Punishment

KW - Queen policing

KW - Queen signal

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84862829526&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84862829526&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.12.024

DO - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.12.024

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84862829526

VL - 83

SP - 587

EP - 593

JO - Animal Behaviour

JF - Animal Behaviour

SN - 0003-3472

IS - 3

ER -