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Open AccessArticle

The Association between Virus Prevalence and Intercolonial Aggression Levels in the Yellow Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis Gracilipes (Jerdon)

1
Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan
2
Department of Biology, Graduate School of Science, Kobe University, Kobe 657-8501, Japan
3
Center for Ecology and Environment, Department of Life Science, Tunghai University, Taichung 40704, Taiwan
4
Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
5
Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere, Kyoto University, Gokasho, Uji, Kyoto, 611-0011, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Equal contribution.
Insects 2019, 10(12), 436; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10120436
Received: 1 October 2019 / Revised: 29 November 2019 / Accepted: 30 November 2019 / Published: 4 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology of Social Insect Diseases)
The recent discovery of multiple viruses in ants, along with the widespread infection of their hosts across geographic ranges, provides an excellent opportunity to test whether viral prevalence in the field is associated with the complexity of social interactions in the ant population. In this study, we examined whether the association exists between the field prevalence of a virus and the intercolonial aggression of its ant host, using the yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) and its natural viral pathogen (TR44839 virus) as a model system. We delimitated the colony boundary and composition of A. gracilipes in a total of 12 study sites in Japan (Okinawa), Taiwan, and Malaysia (Penang), through intercolonial aggression assay. The spatial distribution and prevalence level of the virus was then mapped for each site. The virus occurred at a high prevalence in the surveyed colonies of Okinawa and Taiwan (100% infection rate across all sites), whereas virus prevalence was variable (30%–100%) or none (0%) at the sites in Penang. Coincidentally, colonies in Okinawa and Taiwan displayed a weak intercolonial boundary, as aggression between colonies is generally low or moderate. Contrastingly, sites in Penang were found to harbor a high proportion of mutually aggressive colonies, a pattern potentially indicative of complex colony composition. Our statistical analyses further confirmed the observed correlation, implying that intercolonial interactions likely contribute as one of the effective facilitators of/barriers to virus prevalence in the field population of this ant species.
Keywords: aggressive behavior; Anoplolepis gracilipes; colony structure; viral prevalence; yellow crazy ant aggressive behavior; Anoplolepis gracilipes; colony structure; viral prevalence; yellow crazy ant
MDPI and ACS Style

Hsu, H.-W.; Chiu, M.-C.; Lee, C.-C.; Lee, C.-Y.; Yang, C.-C. The Association between Virus Prevalence and Intercolonial Aggression Levels in the Yellow Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis Gracilipes (Jerdon). Insects 2019, 10, 436.

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  • Supplementary File 1:

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  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3467426
    Description: Supplementary Figure 1: Agarose gel electrophoresis for RT-PCR detection of TR44839 virus. RNA of five workers from each of the three additional colonies (colony 1-3, denoted as C1, 2 and 3) was extracted and used as the template for cDNA synthesis using oligo-dT primer and the strand-specific primer. cDNA was then added to the subsequent PCR reaction in which the target viral fragment was amplified. The presence of TR44839 virus is conformed if a 130 bp fragment is amplified by the PCR reaction with template cDNA synthesized using oligo-dT primer (lane 1-3), whereas active replication is evident if a 130 bp fragment is amplified by the PCR reaction with template cDNA synthesized using the strand-specific primer (lane 4-6). M, 100 bp DNA ladder; B, blank; N, negative control; P, positive control. Supplementary Figure 2: Intercolonial aggression level of colony pairs involving two colonies collected from the same site. The numbers of pairwise aggression test are 6, 21 and 9 in Okinawa, Taiwan and Penang, respectively. Different letters indicate the significant differences in aggression level between islands (p-value<0.001). Supplementary Table 1: Results for within-site and between-site aggression tests
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