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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(12), 1966;

Cuticular Lipids as a Cross-Talk among Ants, Plants and Butterflies

Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Turin, Via Accademia Albertina 13, 10123 Turin, Italy
Academic Editor: Kun Yan Zhu
Received: 7 August 2016 / Revised: 6 November 2016 / Accepted: 17 November 2016 / Published: 24 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant-Insect Interactions)
PDF [7410 KB, uploaded 28 November 2016]


Even though insects and plants are distantly related organisms, they developed an integument which is functionally and structurally similar. Besides functioning as a physical barrier to cope with abiotic and biotic stress, this interface, called cuticle, is also a source of chemical signaling. Crucial compounds with this respect are surface lipids and especially cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). This review is focused on the role of CHCs in fostering multilevel relationships among ants, plants and Lepidoptera (primarily butterflies). Indeed, particular traits of ants as eusocial organisms allowed the evolution and the maintenance of a variety of associations with both plants and animals. Basic concepts of myrmecophilous interactions and chemical deception strategies together with chemical composition, biosynthetic pathways and functions of CHCs as molecular cues of multitrophic systems are provided. Finally, the need to adopt a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach in the survey of complex models is discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: ants; plants; butterflies; interaction; chemical signaling; cuticular hydrocarbons; waxes; symbiosis; lipids ants; plants; butterflies; interaction; chemical signaling; cuticular hydrocarbons; waxes; symbiosis; lipids

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Barbero, F. Cuticular Lipids as a Cross-Talk among Ants, Plants and Butterflies. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 1966.

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