Chemotaxonomic Analysis of the Venom Composition within the Ant Genus Strumigenys (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in Taiwan
Keywords:Dacetine ants, Strumigenys, SPME, venom, GC/MS
In Taiwan, the ant genus Strumigenys is represented by 13 species, nine of which being endemic to this island. Classic morphological taxonomy can be complex and may lead to equivoque identification within this group. To clarify subtle species assignments, we investigated the venom composition of five Strumigenys species, using SPME extraction and GC/MS analyses, and searched for a suitable chemical marker. Our results indicate that three out of the five species tested showed enough specificity in their chemical profiles to allow clear differentiation. However, the two remaining species could not be distinguished from each other on the basis of their venom composition. We further assessed the phylogenetic relationships between the five species, analyzing both morphological and chemical characters. Our clusters revealed congruency between some species associations and suggested that the analysis of venom composition may apply, at least partially, to Strumigenys chemosystematics. However, important discrepancies also appeared, signifying that selective pressures for chemical diversification have operated differentially during the speciation and dispersal processes within this genus inTaiwan.
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