Individual members of insect societies often have different tasks which are related either to the phenotype, the age, or both. Cataglyphis desert ants undergo an age-related polyethism from interior worker with tasks like brood care and food processing inside the nest to predominantly visually guided foragers. Due to very distinct behavioral stages and brief transitions, Cataglyphis ants provide an excellent model organism to investigate the internal regulation of these behavioral transitions.
My research focuses on neuropeptides which might serve as potential modulators of these behavioral transitions. The aim is the mass spectrometry-based identification and localization of the neuropeptides in relation to the age. Additionally, the effect of specific manipulations of relevant neuropeptide titers (e.g. by neuropeptide injection or oral treatment) on the behavior of the ants will be investigated by proceeding behavioral assays.
Habenstein, J., Amini, E., Grübel, K., el Jundi, B., and Rössler, W. (2020) The brain of Cataglyphis ants: neuronal organization and visual projections, Journal of Comparative Neurology - early online.
Lyutova, R., Selcho, M., Pfeuffer, M., Segebarth, D., Habenstein, J., Rohwedder, A., Frantzmann, F., Wegener, C., Thum, A. S., and Pauls, D. (2019) Reward signaling in a recurrent circuit of dopaminergic neurons and peptidergic Kenyon cells, Nature Communications 10, 3097--.