Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Authors: Stoldt, Marah
Collin, Erwann
Macit, Maide Nesibe
Foitzik, Susanne
Title: Brain and antennal transcriptomes of host ants reveal potential links between behaviour and the functioning of socially parasitic colonies
Online publication date: 11-Sep-2023
Year of first publication: 2023
Language: english
Abstract: Insect social parasites are characterized by exploiting the hosts' social behaviour. Why exactly hosts direct their caring behaviour towards these parasites and their offspring remains largely unstudied. One hypothesis is that hosts do not perceive their social environment as altered and accept the parasitic colony as their own. We used the ant Leptothorax acervorum, host of the dulotic, obligate social parasite Harpagoxenus sublaevis, to shed light on molecular mechanisms underlying behavioural exploitation by contrasting tissue-specific transcriptomes in young host workers. Host pupae were experimentally (re-)introduced into fragments of their original, another conspecific, heterospecific or parasitic colony. Brain and antennal mRNA was extracted and sequenced from adult ants after they had lived in the experimental colony for at least 50 days after eclosion. The resulting transcriptomes of L. acervorum revealed that ants were indeed affected by their social environment. Host brain transcriptomes were altered by the presence of social parasites, suggesting that the parasitic environment influences brain activity, which may be linked to behavioural changes. Transcriptional activity in the antennae changed most with the presence of unrelated individuals, regardless of whether they were conspecifics or parasites. This suggests early priming of odour perception, which was further supported by sensory perception of odour as an enriched function of differentially expressed genes. Furthermore, gene expression in the antennae, but not in the brain corresponded to ant worker behaviour before sampling. Our study demonstrated that the exploitation of social behaviours by brood parasites correlates with transcriptomic alterations in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
DDC: 570 Biowissenschaften
570 Life sciences
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 10 Biologie
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz
License: CC BY
Information on rights of use:
Journal: Molecular ecology
Pages or article number: 5170
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Publisher place: Oxford u.a
Issue date: 2023
ISSN: 1365-294X
Publisher DOI: 10.1111/mec.17092
Appears in collections:DFG-491381577-H

Files in This Item:
  File Description SizeFormat
brain_and_antennal_transcript-20230911112426504.pdf5.69 MBAdobe PDFView/Open