Acta Entomologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 64 ›› Issue (7): 875-886.doi: 10.16380/j.kcxb.2021.07.011

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Defensive alkaloids of myrmicine ants

BAI Ru 1,2,#, CHEN Li2,#, WANG Wen-Kai1,*   

  1.   (1. School of Agriculture, Yangtze University, Jingzhou, Hubei 434025, China; 2. College of Life Science, Institute of Life Science and Green Development, Hebei University, Baoding, Hebei 071002, China)
  • Online:2021-07-20 Published:2021-08-02

Abstract: Eusociality is a major characteristic of ants (Formicidae), with apparent division of labor among individuals. They use complex cooperative strategies to protect their nests from predators, pathogenic microorganisms, and ant competitors, and to capture preys. Myrmicinae is the largest group of Formicidae, with 147 living genera. They mainly spray alkaloid-rich venom secretions for defense and hunting. In this article, the composition of defensive alkaloids of Myrmicinae ants and their distribution characteristics in different genera and species were reviewed, whose chemical structure mainly includes piperidine, pyridine, pyrrole, indolizidine, pyrrolizidine and fatty amine, and their function and application were summarized and prospected. Piperidine alkaloids are the typical characteristics of the venom of Solenopsis species, while pyrrolidine, pyrroline, and pyrrolizidine alkaloids predominate in the venom of Monomorium species. Indolizidine alkaloids are the major components of the venom secretion of Myrmicaria ants and Solenopsis thief ants. In addition, fatty amines are also components of the venom of Monomorium species. These venom alkaloids possess a variety of biological activities and have great application value in development of pesticides and biomedicines.

Key words: Ants, Myrmicinae, chemical defense, poison gland, alkaloids, venom