PhD update – Isobel

Acacia falcata plants exude a sugary substance from the leaf-like phyllodes that attracts various insects, particularly ants. Two ant species, an Iridomyrmex sp. and a Polyrhachis sp. both commonly harvest this sugary secretion from A. falcata. To locate this resource, ant’s antennal sensilla come in contact with volatiles that come off the secretion when it is exposed to air. The specific structures responsible for the detection of these volatiles are porous sensilla trichoidea/chaetica which appears on both Iridomyrmex sp. and Polyrhachis s.p antennae (see Figures). These structures can be found on all sides of each antennal flagellomere and increase in shape and number closer to the end of the antenna. By using Scanning and Transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), I am able to determine the function of several antennal sensilla found on the Iridomyrmex sp. and Polyrhachis sp.

see images of the sensilla here

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