Caste-Specific Expression Patterns of Immune Response and Chemosensory Related Genes in the Leaf-Cutting Ant, Atta vollenweideriReport as inadecuate

Caste-Specific Expression Patterns of Immune Response and Chemosensory Related Genes in the Leaf-Cutting Ant, Atta vollenweideri - Download this document for free, or read online. Document in PDF available to download.

Leaf-cutting ants are evolutionary derived social insects with elaborated division of labor and tremendous colony sizes with millions of workers. Their social organization is mainly based on olfactory communication using different pheromones and is promoted by a pronounced size-polymorphism of workers that perform different tasks within the colony. The size polymorphism and associated behaviors are correlated to distinct antennal lobe AL phenotypes. Two worker phenotypes differ in number of olfactory glomeruli in the AL and the presence or absence of an extremely large glomerulus macroglomerulus, involved in trail-pheromone reception. The males- AL contains three macroglomeruli which are presumably involved in detection of sex-pheromone components. We investigated the antennal transcriptome data of all major castes males, queens and workers and two worker subcastes large and tiny workers. In order to identify putative odorant receptor genes involved in pheromone detection, we identified differentially expressed odorant receptor genes OR-genes using custom microarrays. In total, we found 185 OR-gene fragments that are clearly related to ORs and we identified orthologs for 70 OR-genes. Among them one OR-gene differs in relative expression between the two worker subcastes by a factor of >3 and thus is a very promising candidate gene for the trail-pheromone receptor. Using the relative expression of OR-genes in males versus queens, we identified 2 candidates for sex-pheromone receptor genes in males. In addition, we identified genes from all other chemosensory related gene families 13 chemosensory protein genes, 8 odorant binding protein genes, 2 sensory-neuron membrane protein genes, 7 ionotropic receptor genes, 2 gustatory receptor genes, and we found ant-specific expansions in the chemosensory protein gene family. In addition, a large number of genes involved in immune defense exhibited differential expression across the three different castes, and some genes even between the two worker subcastes.

Author: Sarah I. Koch, Katrin Groh, Heiko Vogel, Bill S. Hannson, Christoph J. Kleineidam , Ewald Grosse-Wilde



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