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Ant antennae: are they sites for magnetoreception?

Oliveira, J. F., E. Wajnberg, D. M. de Souza Esquivel, S. Weinkauf, M. Winklhofer, and M. Hanzlik (2010), Ant antennae: are they sites for magnetoreception?, J R Soc Interface, 7(42), 143-152, doi:10.1098/rsif.2009.0102.

Migration of the Pachycondyla marginata ant is significantly oriented at 13° with respect to the geomagnetic north–south axis. On the basis of previous magnetic measurements of individual parts of the body (antennae, head, thorax and abdomen), the antennae were suggested to host a magnetoreceptor. In order to identify Fe3+/Fe2+ sites in antennae tissue, we used light microscopy on Prussian/Turnbull's blue-stained tissue. Further analysis using transmission electron microscopy imaging and diffraction, combined with elemental analysis, revealed the presence of ultra-fine-grained crystals (20–100 nm) of magnetite/maghaemite (Fe3O4/γ-Fe2O3), haematite (α-Fe2O3), goethite (α-FeOOH) besides (alumo)silicates and Fe/Ti/O compounds in different parts of the antennae, that is, in the joints between the third segment/pedicel, pedicel/scape and scape/head, respectively. The presence of (alumo)silicates and Fe/Ti/O compounds suggests that most, if not all, of the minerals in the tissue are incorporated soil particles rather than biomineralized by the ants. However, as the particles were observed within the tissue, they do not represent contamination. The amount of magnetic material associated with Johnston's organ and other joints appears to be sufficient to produce a magnetic-field-modulated mechanosensory output, which may therefore underlie the magnetic sense of the migratory ant.
Further information
  author = {J. F. Oliveira and E. Wajnberg and D. M. de Souza Esquivel and S. Weinkauf and M.  Winklhofer and M. Hanzlik},
  journal = {J R Soc Interface},
  month = {jan},
  number = {42},
  pages = {143-152},
  title = {{Ant antennae: are they sites for magnetoreception?}},
  volume = {7},
  year = {2010},
  url = {http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/05/19/rsif.2009.0102.abstract},
  doi = {10.1098/rsif.2009.0102},
%0 Journal Article
%A Oliveira, J. F.
%A Wajnberg, E.
%A de Souza Esquivel, D. M.
%A Weinkauf, S.
%A Winklhofer, M. 
%A Hanzlik, M.
%D 2010
%N 42
%V 7
%J J R Soc Interface
%P 143-152
%T Ant antennae: are they sites for magnetoreception?
%U http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/05/19/rsif.2009.0102.abstract
%8 jan
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Printed 11. Aug 2020 14:53