Venom Isosolenopsin A Delivers Rapid Knockdown of Fire Ant Competitors

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Eduardo G P FoxYong-Yue Lu

Abstract

Fire ant venoms are composed of insecticidal alkaloids named solenopsins. Whilst species-specific differences are reported, little attention was given to caste-specific venom adaptations. The venom of fire ants queens has remained poorly studied. Founding queens must succeed in isolation in the field, where venom is bound to play a role against competitor species. The venoms of fire ant queens are strikingly similar across different species, in being mainly composed of the alkaloid isosolenopsin A, regardless of the chemical diversity of the worker caste. From assuming this pattern as the evolutionary result of stabilising trait selection, we hypothesise a shared mechanism explaining the conserved venom composition among the fire ant queens of different species. Here we report that fire ant queen venom and its major compounds are much quicker to neutralise competitor ants than the more diverse venoms of workers. Three representative competitor ant species sympatric with invasive fire ants were selected, exposed on the head to venoms from invasive fire ant workers and queens of two main invasive species, Solenopsis invicta and S. geminata. The venom diversity in the worker caste of these species represent extremes in the chemica...Continue Reading

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