Special Issue "Ants as Partners and Hosts"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Donato Antonio Grasso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
Interests: behavioural ecology and sociobiology, biology of ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) and other insects studied with a multidisciplinary approach (behavioural, morpho-functional, ecological and evolutionary)
Prof. Claire Detrain
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biology of Organisms, Unit of Social Ecology, 50 Avenue F. Roosevelt, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Interests: ethology, behavioural ecology, mutualism, social immunity, ant-plant relationships, ants as a tool in robotics and swarm intelligence

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The numerical dominance and ecological ubiquity of ants have led them to interact with many different organisms co-existing in the same biotope, thereby leading to an exceptionally wide range of relationships— from mutualistic to detrimental ones.

The complexity of their social organization allows the ants to control their physical environment, to overcome competitors and to exploit resources in an efficient way. This makes the ants an ideal partner for developing mutualistic relationships. On the other side, the same properties, as well as their ubiquity and the increased sanitary risks associated to their social life, make the ants a suitable target for parasites and pathogens, at different levels of the biological organization, from the individual to the superorganism.

Ants can thus establish a complex network of interactions with virtually every biotic component of their ecosystems, ranging from microorganisms to fungi, and from other animals to plants. This Special Issue will include original research articles and reviews by leading research entomologists and associated experts. Articles will focus on the latest developments in the study of interactions involving ants as partners or hosts of other organisms, from parasitism and opportunism to occasional mutualism and obligate symbiosis.

We feel this topic may be of general interest since interactions among organisms, even belonging to different kingdoms, are receiving increasing attention both for their ecological implications and as an interpretative tool in evolutionary and behavioural biology, genetics, immunology, development and physiology.

Prof. Donato Antonio Grasso
Prof. Claire Detrain
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Insects is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • behavioural ecology
  • ants
  • parasitism
  • opportunism
  • mutualism
  • symbiosis

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Gall-Colonizing Ants and Their Role as Plant Defenders: From ’Bad Job’ to ’Useful Service’
Insects 2019, 10(11), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10110392 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Galls are neoformed structures on host plant tissues caused by the attack of insects or other organisms. They support different communities of specialized parasitic insects (the gall inducers), and can also provide refuge to other insects, such as moths, beetles and ants, referred [...] Read more.
Galls are neoformed structures on host plant tissues caused by the attack of insects or other organisms. They support different communities of specialized parasitic insects (the gall inducers), and can also provide refuge to other insects, such as moths, beetles and ants, referred to as secondary occupants. This study focuses on galls induced by the oak gall wasp Andricus quercustozae and secondarily colonized by ants in a mixed oak forest. A field survey and two experiments were carried out to a) study ant (species-specific) preferences for different features of the galls, b) describe differences in gall architecture due to ant activity, c) analyse the effects of the presence of gall-dwelling ants on plant health. The results show that there are differences between ant species in gall colonization and in the alteration of gall opening and inner structure. We verified that gall-dwelling ants protect their host plants efficiently, offering them an indirect defence mechanism against enemies (predators and pathogens). The data suggest a new paradigm in ant–plant relationships mediated by the presence of galls on the plants whose ecological and evolutionary implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ants as Partners and Hosts)
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Open AccessArticle
Do Host Plant and Associated Ant Species Affect Microbial Communities in Myrmecophytes?
Insects 2019, 10(11), 391; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10110391 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Ant-associated microorganisms can play crucial and often overlooked roles, and given the diversity of interactions that ants have developed, the study of the associated microbiomes is of interest. We focused here on specialist plant-ant species of the genus Allomerus that grow a fungus [...] Read more.
Ant-associated microorganisms can play crucial and often overlooked roles, and given the diversity of interactions that ants have developed, the study of the associated microbiomes is of interest. We focused here on specialist plant-ant species of the genus Allomerus that grow a fungus to build galleries on their host-plant stems. Allomerus-inhabited domatia, thus, might be a rich arena for microbes associated with the ants, the plant, and the fungus. We investigated the microbial communities present in domatia colonised by four arboreal ants: Allomerus decemarticulatus, A. octoarticulatus, A. octoarticulatus var. demerarae, and the non-fungus growing plant-ant Azteca sp. cf. depilis, inhabiting Hirtella physophora or Cordia nodosa in French Guiana. We hypothesized that the microbial community will differ among these species. We isolated microorganisms from five colonies of each species, sequenced the 16S rRNA or Internal TranscribedSpacer (ITS) regions, and described both the alpha and beta diversities. We identified 69 microbial taxa, which belong to five bacterial and two fungal phyla. The most diverse phyla were Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. The microbial community of Azteca cf. depilis and Allomerus spp. differed in composition and richness. Geographical distance affected microbial communities and richness but plant species did not. Actinobacteria were only associated with Allomerus spp. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ants as Partners and Hosts)
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