Spatial representation of alarm pheromone information in a secondary olfactory centre in the ant brain

Nobuhiro Yamagata, Makoto Mizunami

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    10 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Pheromones play major roles in intraspecific communication in many animals. Elaborated communication systems in eusocial insects provide excellent materials to study neural mechanisms for social pheromone processing. We previously reported that alarm pheromone information is processed in a specific cluster of glomeruli in the antennal lobe of the ant Camponotus obscuripes. However, representation of alarm pheromone information in a secondary olfactory centre is unknown in any animal. Olfactory information in the antennal lobe is transmitted to secondary olfactory centres, including the lateral horn, by projection neurons (PNs). In this study, we compared distributions of terminal boutons of alarm pheromone-sensitive and-insensitive PNs in the lateral horn of ants. Distributions of their dendrites largely overlapped, but there was a region where boutons of pheromone-sensitive PNs, but not those of pheromone-insensitive PNs, were significantly denser than in the rest of the lateral horn. Moreover, most of a major type of pheromone-sensitive efferent neurons from the lateral horn extended dendritic branches in this region, suggesting specialization of this region for alarm pheromone processing. This study is the first study to demonstrate the presence of specialized areas for the processing of a non-sexual, social pheromone in the secondary olfactory centre in any animal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2465-2474
    Number of pages10
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Volume277
    Issue number1693
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug 22

    Keywords

    • Lateral horn
    • Olfaction
    • Pheromone communication
    • Sensory map
    • Social insects

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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