Pheromone-sensitive glomeruli in the primary olfactory centre of ants

Nobuhiro Yamagata, Hiroshi Nishino, Makoto Mizunami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Tremendous evolutional success and the ecological dominance of social insects, including ants, termites and social bees, are due to their efficient social organizations and their underlying communication systems. Functional division into reproductive and sterile castes, cooperation in defending the nest, rearing the young and gathering food are all regulated by communication by means of various kinds of pheromones. No brain structures specifically involved in the processing of non-sexual pheromone have been physiologically identified in any social insects. By use of intracellular recording and staining techniques, we studied responses of projection neurons of the antennal lobe (primary olfactory centre) of ants to alarm pheromone, which plays predominant roles in colony defence. Among 23 alarm pheromone-sensitive projection neurons recorded and stained in this study, eight were uniglomerular projection neurons with dendrites in one glomerulus, a structural unit of the antennal lobe, and the remaining 15 were multiglomerular projection neurons with dendrites in multiple glomeruli. Notably, all alarm pheromone-sensitive uniglomerular projection neurons had dendrites in one of five 'alarm pheromone-sensitive (AS)' glomeruli that form a cluster in the dorsalmost part of the antennal lobe. All alarm pheromone-sensitive multiglomerular projection neurons had dendrites in some of the AS glomeruli as well as in glomeruli in the anterodorsal area of the antennal lobe. The results suggest that components of alarm pheromone are processed in a specific cluster of glomeruli in the antennal lobe of ants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2219-2225
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1598
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Sep 7


  • Alarm pheromone
  • Antennal lobe
  • Olfactory centre
  • Pheromone communication
  • Social insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Pheromone-sensitive glomeruli in the primary olfactory centre of ants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this