Das Zoologische Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig
ist ein Forschungsmuseum der Leibniz Gemeinschaft
Link zur Leibnizgemeinschaft
The lycaenid species Jalmenus evagoras (Theclinae) is a model organism in studies of the mutualism between butterflies and ants. In the field this species is obligately associated with ants in the genus Iridomyrmex (Dolichoderinae). The larvae produce secretions rich in amino acids and sugars, which is sought after by the ants that again protect the larvae against predators and parasites. It has, however, been shown experimentally that ant attendance comes with a cost for the butterflies. Ant attended larvae have a longer development time than non-ant attendant larvae and produce smaller adults, which affects fitness. Differences in gene expression between ant and non-ant attended larvae have not been studied. We would expect differences in expression in genes related to metabolism, but what other physiological processes might be involved is not known.
I am collaborating with Naomi Pierce and Richard Childers at Harvard University, and Sarah Kocher at Princeton University on the first study of gene expression in J. evagoras