Chemical communication in ant-hemipteran mutualism: potential implications for ant invasions.
Ant-hemipteran mutualism is one of the most frequently observed food-for-protection associations in nature, and is recently found to contribute to the invasions of several of the most destructive invasive ants. Chemical communication underlies establishment and maintenance of such associations, in which a multitude of semiochemicals, such as pheromones, cuticular hydrocarbons, honeydew sugars and bacteria-produced honeydew volatiles mediate location, recognition, selection, learning of mutualistic partners. Here, we review what is known about the chemical communication between ants and honeydew-producing hemipterans, and discuss how invasive ants can rapidly recognize and establish a mutualistic relationship with the hemipterans with which they have never coevolved. We also highlight some future directions for a clearer understanding of the chemical communication in ant-hemipteran mutualism and its role in ant invasions.