[en] It is now long known that some ant and aphid species can present a mutualistic relationship, ants using aphid honeydew as sugar source and in exchange providing the aphid colony cleaning and protection. From a behavioral point of view, this phenomenon has been well studied, but its chemistry and semiochemical mechanisms are still largely unknown. This study aims to identify semiochemicals involved in the establishment of this relation and their sources, using both chemical and behavioral methods. Bioassays revealed that the greatest part of ant attraction toward aphid colonies is due to honeydew volatile compounds; enabling ant scouts to find more quickly aphid colonies and distantly recognize myrmecophilous species. Many of those VOCs seeming to have microbial origins, the main honeydew microorganisms have been isolated and their roles in VOCs production and ant attraction have been investigated.
Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l'Industrie et dans l'Agriculture (Communauté française de Belgique) - FRIA