Effects on Brood Development in the Carpenter Ant Camponotus vicinus Mayr after Exposure to the Yeast Associate Schwanniomyces polymorphus Kloecker

Insects. 2021 Jun 4;12(6):520. doi: 10.3390/insects12060520.


The yeast Schwanniomyces polymorphus is associated with the infrabuccal pocket in the carpenter ant Camponotus vicinus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), but its role in ant development is poorly defined. The potential effects of this yeast on brood development were examined on sets of larval groups and workers over a 12 week period. Worker-larval sets were fed variations of a completely artificial, holidic diet and exposed or not exposed to live S. polymorphus. Worker-larval sets in half of the experiment were defaunated using a two-step heat and chemical process. Brood development and number of adult ants produced were significantly affected by the heat/chemical defaunation process. Compared to worker-larval groups fed a basal, complete diet, all treatments resulted in no or deleterious larval development. Brood weights and number of worker ants produced from the original larval sets at initiation were significantly higher in non-defaunated ant groups fed a diet lacking both B vitamins and cholesterol and exposed to live S. polymorphus. We propose that this yeast may help ants to more efficiently assimilate nutrients when fed nutrient-deficient diets, particularly those deficient in sterols.

Keywords: B vitamins; Camponotus vicinus; Schwanniomyces polymorphus; artificial diet; defaunation; ectosymbiont; infrabuccal pocket; sterols; yeast exposure.