International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Sensilla, polymorphism and polyethism in leaf cutter ants

Author(s):
Fernando Ribeiro Sujimoto, Fernando Ribeiro Sujimoto , Davi de Souza Fernandes , Camila Moreira Costa , José Maurício Simões Bento
Institution(s):
Department of Entomology and Acarology, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil; Department of Entomology and Acarology, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil ; Department of Entomology and Acarology, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil ; Department of Entomology and Acarology, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil ; Department of Entomology and Acarology, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil
The types and number of sensilla in insects can indicate many physiological and behavioral aspects. To the ants, these organs, distributed specially along the antennae, also reflect the complex and vital chemical communication and its relations with a morphological variation found in the colonies. So far, the leaf cutter ants were not deeply explored concerning this scenario. We investigated the diversity, quantity and distribution of sensilla in the antenna of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) castes and sub castes, aiming to compare the results with the polymorphic patterns and behavior profiles variations. Supported by scanning electron microscope images of the antennae, and based on the literature about sensilla in insects, it was possible to identify nine olfactory structures in this species: Chaetica I, II e III; Tricoidea I and II, Basiconica, Coelocaptular, Coeloconica and Ampullacea. The quantity and diverse of these organs vary between males and the queens, showing a sexual dimorphism associated to the olfactory capacity, biological functions and behavior. About the workers, they showed some similar characteristics and others clearly different, all direct or indirectly associated to their ethological profiles. Altogether, the sensilla quantitative and qualitative aspects cluster the gardeners and generalists in one larger group; foragers and soldiers in another; while the queens are similar to the bigger workers, but they also have unique olfactory characteristics. The males’ antenna were the most uncommon and majorly linked to reproductive activities. Thus, these results enabled a better comprehension of the olfactory aspects, polymorphism and polyethism in leaf cutter ants. 
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