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North Bend, OR, United States

LeBrun E.G.,University of Texas at Austin | Diebold P.J.,University of Texas at Austin | Orr M.R.,600 NW College Way | Gilbert L.E.,University of Texas at Austin
Journal of Chemical Ecology

The ability to detoxify defensive compounds of competitors provides key ecological advantages that can influence community-level processes. Although common in plants and bacteria, this type of detoxification interaction is extremely rare in animals. Here, using laboratory behavioral assays and analyses of videotaped interactions in South America, we report widespread venom detoxification among ants in the subfamily Formicinae. Across both data sets, nine formicine species, representing all major clades, used a stereotyped grooming behavior to self-apply formic acid (acidopore grooming) in response to fire ant (Solenopsis invicta and S. saevissima) venom exposure. In laboratory assays, this behavior increased the survivorship of species following exposure to S. invicta venom. Species expressed the behavior when exposed to additional alkaloid venoms, including both compositionally similar piperidine venom of an additional fire ant species and the pyrrolidine/pyrroline alkaloid venom of a Monomorium species. In addition, species expressed the behavior following exposure to the uncharacterized venom of a Crematogaster species. However, species did not express acidopore grooming when confronted with protein-based ant venoms or when exposed to monoterpenoid-based venom. This pattern, combined with the specific chemistry of the reaction of formic acid with venom alkaloids, indicates that alkaloid venoms are targets of detoxification grooming. Solenopsis thief ants, and Monomorium species stand out as brood-predators of formicine ants that produce piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrroline venom, providing an important ecological context for the use of detoxification behavior. Detoxification behavior also represents a mechanism that can influence the order of assemblage dominance hierarchies surrounding food competition. Thus, this behavior likely influences ant-assemblages through a variety of ecological pathways. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York Source

Day J.M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Oakley B.B.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Oakley B.B.,Western University of Health Sciences | Seal B.S.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 2 more authors.

There is a great deal of interest in characterizing the complex microbial communities in the poultry gut, and in understanding the effects of these dynamic communities on poultry performance, disease status, animal welfare, and microbes with human health significance. Investigations characterizing the poultry enteric virome have identified novel poultry viruses, but the roles these viruses play in disease and performance problems have yet to be fully characterized. The complex bacterial community present in the poultry gut influences gut development, immune status, and animal health, each of which can be an indicator of overall performance. The present metagenomic investigation was undertaken to provide insight into the colonization of specific pathogen free chickens by enteric microorganisms under field conditions and to compare the pre-contact intestinal microbiome with the altered microbiome following contact with poultry raised in the field. Analysis of the intestinal virome from contact birds ("sentinels") placed on farms revealed colonization by members of the Picornaviridae, Picobirnaviridae, Reoviridae, and Astroviridae that were not present in precontact birds or present in proportionally lower numbers. Analysis of the sentinel gut bacterial community revealed an altered community in the post-contact birds, notably by members of the Lachnospiracea/Clostridium and Lactobacillus families and genera. Members of the avian enteric Reoviridae and Astroviridae have been well-characterized and have historically been implicated in poultry enteric disease; members of the Picobirnaviridae and Picornaviridae have only relatively recently been described in the poultry and avian gut, and their roles in the recognized disease syndromes and in poultry performance in general have not been determined. This metagenomic analysis has provided insight into the colonization of the poultry gut by enteric microbes circulating in commercial broiler flocks, and has identified enteric viruses and virus communities that warrant further study in order to understand their role(s) in avian gut health and disease. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All rights reserved. Source

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