PhD student Isobel Roberts is working on the antennal sensilla responsible for chemoreception in Iridomyrmex sp. and Polyrhachis sp.
Ant communication is known to be heavily reliant on chemical cues. However, there is still more to understand of the structures associated with chemical detection. Chemoreceptors, commonly found on the antennae, are responsible for the detection of chemical cues.
Isobel is using a combination of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to examine the internal structures of ant antennal sensilla to more accurately determine sensilla function. Using this classification I also hope to determine the variety of chemoreceptors found upon ant antennae and the density of those chemoreceptors. These measures of chemoreceptor variety and density can be linked to foraging, nest size and general activity seen within a species and as such, differences between species are expected.
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