Higher brain centers for social tasks in worker ants, Camponotus japonicus



Ants, eusocial insects, have highly elaborate chemical communication systems using a wide variety of pheromones. In the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus, workers and queens have the female-specific basiconic sensilla on antennae. The antennal lobe, the primary processing center, in female carpenter ants contains about 480 glomeruli, which are divided into seven groups (T1–T7 glomeruli) based on sensory afferent tracts. The axons of sensory neurons in basiconic sensilla are thought to project to female-specific T6 glomeruli. Therefore, these sensilla and glomeruli are thought to relate to female-specific social tasks in the ants. By using dye filling into local neurons (LNs) and projection neurons (PNs) in the antennal lobe, we neuroanatomically revealed the existence of an isolated processing system for signals probably relating to social tasks in the worker ant. In the antennal lobe, two categories of glomeruli, T6 glomeruli and non-T6 glomeruli, are clearly segregated by LNs. Furthermore, axon terminals of uniglomerular PNs from the respective categories of glomeruli (T6 uni-PNs and non-T6 uni-PNs) are also segregated in the secondary olfactory centers, the calyces of the mushroom body and the lateral horn: T6 uni-PNs terminate in the outer layers of the basal ring and lip of mushroom body calyces and in the posterior region of the lateral horn, whereas non-T6 uni-PNs terminate in the middle and inner layers of the basal ring and lip and in the anterior region of the lateral horn. These findings suggest that information probably relating to social tasks might be isolated from other olfactory information and processed in a separate subsystem. J. Comp. Neurol. 520:1584–1598, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.