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Bull Entomol Res. 2008 Oct;98(5):467-73. doi: 10.1017/S0007485308005786. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Interference of beta-eudesmol in nestmate recognition in Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

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  • 1Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.


Leaf-cutter ant species (Atta spp.) are key pests of cultivated crops in the Neotropics, and recent studies have demonstrated that workers of Atta spp., particularly of Atta sexdens rubropilosa, exhibit aggressive behavior among nestmates when in contact with the sesquiterpene beta-eudesmol, found in leaves of Eucalyptus maculata. However, the underlying mechanism sparking this behavior pattern has yet to be investigated. This work aimed to elucidate the mechanism by which this substance elicits aggression in workers of A. sexdens rubropilosa. The results, thus obtained, showed that beta-eudesmol is able to modify the chemical composition of the workers cuticle, impairing nestmate recognition, triggering alarm behavior and leading to nestmate aggression.

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