Social insect age polyethism and its physiological and anatomical causes/correlates have been intensively studied for decades. Recently a focus on the neurobiology of task allocation has emerged. This study used HPLC to measure biogenic (serotonin, dopamine and octopamine) levels, confocal microscopy to visualize biogenic amine neuroanatomical structure and TEM to describe ultrastructure of the mushroom bodies in ant brains. Serotonin and dopamine were found to be associated with ants performing different tasks (nursing behavior and foraging). Older workers had significantly more serotoninergic cell bodies than younger workers. The ultrastructure of the mushroom bodies between foragers and nursers also differed in size and shape of boutons, number of synapses on the boutons, vesicle types and in shape/configuration of dendrites. Our research uses recent technological advances to integrate the characterization of axonal and dendritic aborations and neurochemical characteristics with how division of labor is regulated in the ant, Pheidole dentata.
Species 1: hymenoptera formicidae Pheidole dentata
Keywords: mushroom bodies, synapes
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