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J Insect Physiol. 2010 Aug;56(8):937-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2010.04.023. Epub 2010 May 8.

Behavioural phase change in the Australian plague locust, Chortoicetes terminifera, is triggered by tactile stimulation of the antennae.

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School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.


Density-dependent phase polyphenism is a defining characteristic of the paraphyletic group of acridid grasshoppers known as locusts. The cues and mechanisms associated with crowding that induce behavioural gregarization are best understood in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, and involve a combination of sensory inputs from the head (visual and olfactory) and mechanostimulation of the hind legs, acting via a transient increase in serotonin in the thoracic ganglia. Since behavioural gregarization has apparently arisen independently multiple times within the Acrididae, the important question arises as to whether the same mechanisms have been recruited each time. Here we explored the roles of visual, olfactory and tactile stimulation in the induction of behavioural gregarization in the Australian plague locust, Chortoicetes terminifera. We show that the primary gregarizing input is tactile stimulation of the antennae, with no evidence for an effect of visual and olfactory stimulation or tactile stimulation of the hind legs. Our results show that convergent behavioural responses to crowding have evolved employing different sites of sensory input in the Australian plague locust and the desert locust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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