Johan P J Billen

Learn More
The main secretory products of the hypopharyngeal gland are royal jelly compounds, as well as other substances such as α-glucosidase. Our study of the morphology and ultrastructure of this gland in relation to worker’s age clearly shows a secretory cycle within the cells, although production of secretion is asynchroneous between different cells within an(More)
A major evolutionary transition to eusociality with reproductive division of labor between queens and workers has arisen independently at least 10 times in the ants, bees, and wasps. Pheromones produced by queens are thought to play a key role in regulating this complex social system, but their evolutionary history remains unknown. Here, we identify the(More)
For more than 20 years, sex allocation in hymenopteran societies has been a major topic in insect sociobiology. A recurring idea was that relatedness asymmetrics arising from their haplodiploid sex determination system would lead to various parent-offspring conflicts over optimal reproduction. A possible weakness of existing theory is that only interests of(More)
A caste system in which females develop into morphologically distinct queens or workers has evolved independently in ants, wasps and bees. Although such reproductive division of labour may benefit the colony it is also a source of conflict because individual immature females can benefit from developing into a queen in order to gain greater direct(More)
Specialized parasites are expected to express complex adaptations to their hosts. Manipulation of host behavior is such an adaptation. We studied the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a locally specialized parasite of arboreal Camponotus leonardi ants. Ant-infecting Ophiocordyceps are known to make hosts bite onto vegetation before killing them. We show(More)
InAtta sexdens rubropilosa, a strongly polyethic and polymorphic species of myrmicine ant, the contents of the mandibular gland vary with caste. Small workers of head width 0.5–1.8 mm, those generally engaged in duties inside the nest, contain chiefly 4-methyl-3-heptanone. Larger workers, those chiefly engaged in foraging, and the soldier caste contain a(More)
Gnamptogenys menadensis (subfamily Ponerinae) foragers use chemical trails to home to their nests. Although prey capture and retrieval are generally performed solitarily, trails seem to enhance foraging to areas rich in prey or to sugar sources. Trail laying and following are most conspicuous during nest migration. These trails are laid down by tapping the(More)
Attine ants engage in a quadripartite symbiosis with fungi they cultivate for food, specialized garden parasites, and parasite-inhibiting bacteria. Molecular phylogenetic evidence supports an ancient host-pathogen association between the ant-cultivar mutualism and the garden parasite. Here we show that ants rear the antibiotic-producing bacteria in(More)
Insect societies are well known for their high degree of cooperation, but their colonies can potentially be exploited by reproductive workers who lay unfertilized, male eggs, rather than work for the good of the colony. Recently, it has also been discovered that workers in bumblebees and Asian honeybees can succeed in entering and parasitizing unrelated(More)