Evidence for a thoracic crop in the workers of some {Neotropical} {Pheidole} species ({Formicidae}: {Myrmicinae})

The ability of ant colonies to transport, store, and distribute food resources through trophallaxis is a key advantage of social life. Nonetheless, how the structure of the digestive system has adapted across the ant phylogeny to facilitate these abilities is still not well understood. The crop and proventriculus, structures in the ant foregut (stomodeum), have received most attention for their roles in trophallaxis. However, potential roles of the esophagus have not been as well studied. Here, we report for the first time the presence of an auxiliary thoracic crop in Pheidole aberrans and Pheidole deima using X-ray micro-computed tomography and 3D segmentation. Additionally, we describe morphological modifications involving the endo- and exoskeleton that are associated with the presence of the thoracic crop. Our results indicate that the presence of a thoracic crop in major workers suggests their potential role as repletes or live food reservoirs, expanding the possibilities of tasks assumed by these individuals in the colony. Our contribution emphasizes the utility of combining data from external and internal morphology to better understand functional and behavioral mechanisms.


Evidence for a thoracic crop in the workers of some {Neotropical} {Pheidole} species ({Formicidae}: {Myrmicinae})
Publication Type
Journal Article
Year of Publication
Arthropod Structure & Development
Date Published
Submitted on 26 October 2021