Journal Article (Refereed)
Evidence for colony-specific differences in chemical mimicry in the parasitic mite Varroa destructor
Kather, R & Drijfhout, F & Shemilt, S & Martin, S 2015, 'Evidence for colony-specific differences in chemical mimicry in the parasitic mite Varroa destructor', Chemecology , 25(4), pp.215-222.
In social insects, the integrity of a colony is maintained by recognising and removing intruders. Nest-mates use chemical cues on the cuticle of the individual they encounter to determine whether or not it is part of the colony. Parasites have evolved to take advantage of this recognition system by mimicking these chemical cues to gain entry into the colony and therefore, avoid being attacked by the host during their stay. The ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor uses chemical camouflage to access and remain undetected inside colonies of its honey bee host, Apis mellifera. It remains, however, to be tested whether the mite also mirrors colony-specific cues to retain its camouflage when switching host colonies. Here, we show that the mite’s chemical mimicry is colony-specific and that these colony-specific differences were based on differences in the n-alkane and alkene part of the mite’s chemical profile, even though overall chemical mimicry was imperfect