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Journal Article (Refereed)
January 2016

Species-Specific Cuticular Hydrocarbon Stability within European Myrmica Ants

Guillem, R & Drijfhout, F & Martin, S 2016, 'Species-Specific Cuticular Hydrocarbon Stability within European Myrmica Ants', J Chem Ecol.


Abstract Recognition is a fundamental process on which all
subsequent behaviors are based at every organizational level,
from the gene up to the super-organism. At the whole organism
level, visual recognition is the best understood. However,
chemical communication is far more widespread than visual
communication, but despite its importance is much less understood.
Ants provide an excellent model system for chemical
ecology studies as it is well established that compounds
known as cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are used as recognition
cues in ants. Therefore, stable species-specific odors
should exist, irrespective of geographic locality.We tested this
hypothesis by comparing the CHC profiles of workers of
twelve species of Myrmica ants from four countries across
Europe, from Iberia to the Balkans and from the
Mediterranean to Fennoscandia. CHCs remained qualitatively
stable within each species, right down to the isomer level.
Despite the morphological similarity that occurs within the
genus Myrmica, their CHCs were highly diverse but remarkably
species-specific and stable across wide geographical
areas. This indicates a genetic mechanism under strong selection
that produces these species-specific chemical profiles,
despite each species encountering different environmental
conditions across its range


SEEK Members

External Authors

Rhian Guillem

Falko Drijfhout

Publication Details

Journal Name
J Chem Ecol