We examined recruitment behavior of the ant Pheidole dentigula to six different carbohydrates each presented at two concentrations. In each case, the recruitment response was enhanced by raising the carbohydrate concentration from 0.5 to 1.0 M. However, glucose and sucrose were more effective than other sugars at inducing recruitment activity at 0.5 M. In the simultaneous presence of both sugar solutions, but moving away the more concentrated one, the colony opted in the case of glucose and sucrose, but not with maltose, for the food source of less energy content. These findings suggest that taste receptors of Pheidole dentigula are differentially sensitive to distinct carbohydrates. This species was also responsive to trehalose, which has no recruitment activity in other ants. We consider that functional and molecular taste receptor diversity may represent an evolutionary advantage for insect societies, since it allows them to organize efficiently the required effort to exploit the existing resources.
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Vol. 121 • No. 3