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The Sensory Basis of Olfactory Detection in the Dampwood Termite, Zootermopsis Nevadensis

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ABSTRACT Communication is vital in the context of everyday life for all organisms, but particularly so in social insects, such as Z. nevadensis. The overall lifestyle and need for altruistic

ABSTRACT Communication is vital in the context of everyday life for all organisms, but particularly so in social insects, such as Z. nevadensis. The overall lifestyle and need for altruistic acts of individuals within a colony depends primarily on intracolony chemical communication, with a focus on odorants. The perception of these odorants is made possible by the chemoreceptive functions of sensilla basiconica and sensilla trichoid which exist on the antennal structure. The present study consists of both a morphological analysis and electrophysiological experiment concerning sensilla basiconica. It attempts to characterize the function of neurons present in sensilla basiconica through single sensillum recordings and contributes to existing literature by determining if a social insect, such as the dampwood termite, is able to perceive a wide spectrum of odorants despite having significantly fewer olfactory receptors than most other social insect species. Results indicated that sensilla basiconica presence significantly out-paced that of sensilla trichoid and sensilla chaetica combined, on all flagellomeres. Analysis demonstrated significant responses to all general odorants and several cuticular hydrocarbons. Combined with the knowledge of fewer olfactory receptors present in this species and their lifestyle, results may indicate a positive association between the the social complexity of an insect's lifestyle and the number of ORs the individuals within that colony possess.

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  • 2015-05