Behavioural effects of juvenile hormone and their influence on division of labour in leaf-cutting ant societies

Norman, Victoria C and Hughes, William O H (2016) Behavioural effects of juvenile hormone and their influence on division of labour in leaf-cutting ant societies. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219 (1). pp. 8-11. ISSN 0022-0949

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Abstract

Division of labour in social insects represents a major evolutionary transition, but the physiological mechanisms that regulate this are still little understood. Experimental work with honey bees, and correlational analyses in other social insects, have implicated juvenile hormone (JH) as a regulatory factor, but direct experimental evidence of behavioural effects of JH in social insects is generally lacking. Here, we used experimental manipulation of JH to show that raised JH levels in leaf-cutting ants results in workers becoming more active, phototactic and threat responsive, and engaging in more extranidal activity – behavioural changes that we show are all characteristic of the transition from intranidal work to foraging. These behavioural effects on division of labour suggest that the JH mediation of behaviour occurs across multiple independent evolutions of eusociality, and may be a key endocrine regulator of the division of labour which has produced the remarkable ecological and evolutionary success of social insects.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: William Hughes
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 07:44
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 09:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60003

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
DTA - Determining the environmental and genetic basis of phenotypic plasiticity in leaf-cutting antsG1011BBSRC-BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCILBB/J011339/1
Phenotypic plasticity in leaf-cutting antsG0977SYNGENTA LIMITEDUnset