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Life inside ant colonies is orchestrated with diverse pheromones, but it is not clear how ants perceive these social signals. It has been proposed that pheromone perception in ants evolved via expansions in the numbers of odorant receptors (ORs) and antennal lobe glomeruli. Here, we generate the first mutant lines in the clonal raider ant, Ooceraea biroi, by disrupting orco, a gene required for the function of all ORs. We find that orco mutants exhibit severe deficiencies in social behavior and fitness, suggesting they are unable to perceive pheromones. Surprisingly, unlike in Drosophila melanogaster, orco mutant ants also lack most of the ???500 antennal lobe??glomeruli found in wild-type ants. These results illustrate that ORs are essential for ant social organization and raise the possibility that, similar to mammals, receptor function is required for the development and/or maintenance of the highly complex olfactory processing areas in the ant brain. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

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We all depend on cues. Without them, the notion of community would not exist. Cues are the cement of society, and their nature can be very diverse. Birds whistle. Hogs grunt. Plants give off scents. Fish use bioluminescence. Slugs release pheromones. Humans...