Document Detail

Worker division of labor and endocrine physiology are associated in the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex californicus.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22246254     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
In Pogonomyrmex californicus harvester ants, an age-associated division of labor occurs in the worker caste, in which young workers perform in-nest tasks and older workers forage for food. Here, we tested whether this behavioral division is age based or age flexible, and whether it coincides with differential expression of systemic hormones with known roles in behavioral regulation. Whole-body content of juvenile hormone (JH) and ecdysteroids was determined in workers from (1) age-typical colonies, in which a typical age structure is maintained and workers transition across behaviors naturally, and (2) single-cohort colonies, which are entirely composed of same-aged workers, facilitating the establishment of age-independent division of labor. Foragers from both colony types had higher JH and lower ecdysteroid content than workers performing in-nest tasks, suggesting that age is not the sole determinant of worker behavior. This association between hormone content and behavior of P. californicus workers is similar to that previously observed in founding queens of this species. Because these hormones are key regulators of development and reproductive behavior, our data are consistent with the reproductive ground plan hypothesis (RGPH), which posits that the reproductive regulatory mechanisms of solitary ancestors were co-opted to regulate worker behavior.
Adam G Dolezal; Colin S Brent; Bert Hölldobler; Gro V Amdam
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  215     ISSN:  1477-9145     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2012 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-01-16     Completed Date:  2012-06-18     Revised Date:  2013-06-26    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  454-60     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Ants / physiology*
Behavior, Animal / physiology*
Ecdysteroids / analysis
Endocrine System / physiology*
Juvenile Hormones / analysis
Reproduction / physiology
Social Behavior*
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Ecdysteroids; 0/Juvenile Hormones

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