Caste-Specific Expression of Na+/K+-ATPase in the Asian Weaver Ant, Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius, 1775)

  • C C Sheeja
  • V V Thushara
  • L Divya
Systematics, Morphology and Physiology


Social insect colonies adopt different levels of survival strategies and exhibit well-defined reproductive division of labour. Oecophylla smaragdina (Fabricius, 1775) has physiological and behavioral adaptations that enable them to forage at extreme environmental conditions and are lethal to most other insects. Ion homeostasis is the key process in an organism’s survival mechanism. Among ion pumps, the ATP-dependent sodium–potassium ion pump is essential for maintaining the Na+ and K+ ionic balance and is well known as the primary consumer of energy. Oecophylla smaragdina plays pivotal role as a model among social insects for understanding ion homeostasis at the organization level of the castes. We have evaluated the expression and activity of Na+/K+-ATPase among various castes of O. smaragdina (worker subcastes, queen and male). Real-time PCR and immunoblotting analyses revealed the differential expression of Na+/K+-ATPase in the castes. Significantly higher expression of Na+/K+-ATPase mRNA and protein were observed in the minor workers, queen, major workers and males respectively. These results suggest that in the weaver ant colony, the castes might have variously adapted and evolved with a well-developed ion transport mechanism which allows them to perform allocated tasks within the nest and could be a key to their adaptive benefits towards division of labour.


Asian weaver ant social caste Na+/K+-ATPase division of labour 



The authors would like to thank Department of Science & Technology-INSPIRE, India, Science and Engineering Research Board (SB/WEA-15/2016) and Central University of Kerala.


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept of Animal Science, School of Biological SciencesCentral Univ of KeralaKasaragodIndia

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