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CNRS Research Scientist - Webmaster
Tél : 02 47 36 73 72

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Research fields: Chemical ecology, behavioral ecology, behavioral genetics.


Keywords: Chemical communication, genetic expression, behavior, polyethism, polyphenism, foraging gene, social conflict, reproduction, insect societies, invasive species.


Biological models: Social insects (termite, ant, wasp), earwig, drosophila, nasonia.



Research projects



My main research projects are to understand complex behaviors of insects and particularly of social insects. How environmental factors are pursued, analyzed and which behavioral responses are influenced? But also, how intra- and interspecific interactions could modify behaviors by changing gene expression? By using tools from chemical ecology and behavioral genetics, my own researches focus on social interactions and their adaptive impacts. So, my studies are based on insect behaviors (recognition, aggressiveness, foraging, parental care, sexual courtship) through the study of chemical communications and gene expression.



Pheidole pallidula



Behaviors and genes expression are under several abiotic and biotic environmental factors which also include social environment. Chemical communication plays an important role in inter-individual interaction in insects and codifies part of the environmental and social information. To unravel communication mechanisms of insects and their evolutions, it is of primary importance to decrypt such chemical information. In more details, I explore questions on behavioral plasticity of insects and in particular in social insects: What are the chemical signals and the genes involved? How environmental factors play a role? What are the consequences of the different reproductives/castes on social organization in insect societies? How such systems are maintained and evolved?


In social insects, the caste system allow the main factor influencing behavioral plasticity is the caste system which is linked to social organization and raised several questions

Reticulitermes flavipes - in woods


Species studied


To answers such questions, I study several insect models like termites, ants, earwigs, wasps (solitary and social) and drosophila. They all presents specificity and possess different advantages for my researches. Social insects like termites and ants are organized in complex societies with several social interactions. Nevertheless, eusociality (true sociality) appeared independently in Isopteran (termites) and Hymenopteran (ants, bees and wasps) which gives to termites unique specificities. Concerning drosophila, it is the most studied insect model and its genome is known since a long time, which allow to dissect in details the genetic pathways of its communication system.



Pheidole pallidula - soldiers & workers


Main methods


- Chemical analyze and identification: gas chromatography (GC), mass spectrometry (GC-MS/GC-TQ), thin layer chromatography (TLC), liquid chromatography (HPLC), chemical extraction (SPME, SBSE, SHS, DHS, DMDS)
- Genetic expression: quantitative RT-PCR, in situ, RNA interference
- Experimental behavior: video-tracking, cross-linked reproduction, cross-fostering



That's all folks


Major publications

(Full citations record can be found here)

Brossette L, Meunier J, Dupont S, Bagnères AG, Lucas C (In Press)
Unbalanced biparental care during colony foundation in two subterranean termites
Ecology and Evolution

Lucas C, Brossette L, Lefloch L, Dupont S, Christidès JP, Bagnères AG (2018)
When predator odour makes groups stronger: effects on behavioral and chemical adaptations in two termite species
Entomological Ecology 43 (4): 513-524

Brossette L, Bagnères AG, Millot A, Blanchard S, Dupont S, Lucas C (2017)
Termites’ royal cradle: Does foundation success vary between two subterranean species?
Insectes Sociaux 64 (4): 515-523

Csata E*, Timuș N*, Witek M*, Casacci LP*, Lucas C, Bagnères AG, Sztencel-Jabłonka A, Barbero F, Bonelli S, Rákosy L, Markó B (2017)
Lock-picks: fungal infection facilitates the intrusion of strangers into ant colonies
Scientific Reports 7: 46323

Elia M, Blancato G, Picchi L, Lucas C, Bagnères AG*, Lorenzi MC* (2017)
Nest signature changes throughout colony cycle and after social parasite invasion in social wasps
PLoS ONE(12): e0190018

Baudino S, Lucas C, Smadja C (2017)
Les Omiques en écologie chimique, In: Ecologie Chimique
Collective Eds. ISTE, ISBN: 978-1-78405-186-0, 135-157

Baudino S, Lucas C, Smadja C (2016)
Omics in chemical ecology, In: Chemical Ecology
Collective Eds. ISTE-Willey, ISBN: 978-1-84821-924-3, 117-137

Lucas C, Nicolas M, Keller L (2015)
Expression of foraging and Gp-9 are associated with social organization in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta
Insect Molecular Biology 24 (1): 93-104

Chirault M, Lucas C, Goubault M, Chevrier C, Bressac C, Lécureuil C (2015)
A combined approach of heat stress effect on male fertility in parasitic wasp
PLoS ONE 10(3): e0120656

Manfredini F, Lucas C, Nicolas M, Keller L, Shoemaker DW, Grozinger C (2014)
Molecular and social regulation of worker division of labor in fire ants
Molecular Ecology 23 (3): 660-672

Wong JWY*, Meunier J*, Lucas C, Kölliker M (2014)
Paternal signature in kin recognition cues of a social insect: Concealed in juveniles, revealed in adults
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: biological Sciences

Wong JWY, Lucas C, Kölliker M (2014)
Cues of maternal condition influence offspring selfishness
PLoS ONE 9 (1): e87214

Lucas C & Charpentier M (2012)
Odeurs en sociétés, In: Ecologie Chimique - Le Langage de la Nature
Collective Eds. CNRS (INEE) - Le cherche midi, ISBN 978-2-7491-2772-9, 192p.
media coverage: France inter (radio), RFI (radio), Biofutur

Smadja C, Lucas C, Caissard JC (2012)
L'écologie chimique et les omiques, In: Prospective de l’Institut Ecologie et Environnement (INEE)
CNRS eds. Les Cahiers Prospectives - Prospective Ecologie Chimique. Paris, CNRS, 16-23

Meunier J, Delémont O, Lucas C (2011)
Recognition in ants: social origin matters
PLoS ONE 6 (5): e19347

Darrouzet E, Lucas C (2011)
Les termites, un monde de castes
Microscoop, le journal du CNRS en délégation 63:14-15

Lucas C, Kornfein R, Chatterjee M, Schonfeld J, Geva N, Sokolowski MB, Ayali, A (2010)
The locust foraging gene
Archives of Insect Biochemistry & Physiology 74 (1), 52-66

Lucas C, Hugson NB, Sokolowski MB (2010)
Job switching in ants: role of a kinase
Communicative & Integrative Biology 3 (1), 6-8

Lucas C, Sokolowski MB (2009)
Molecular basis for changes in behavioral state in ant social behaviors
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (15), 6351-6356
media coverage: The New York Times (press), Nature Education (press), Rogers TV news,
CBC radio, 24 heures (press), Uniscope (press), The Bulletin (press), UTM Press,
The journal of experimental biology (Highlights)

Krupp J, Kent C, Billeter JC, So T, Azanchi R, Smith BP, Schonfeld JA, Lucas C, Levine JD (2008)
Social experience modifies pheromone expression and mating behavior in male Drosophila melanogaster
Current Biology 18 (18), 1373-1383
media coverage: Current Biology (dispatch)

Ejima A, Smith BPC, Lucas C, van der Goes van Naters W, Miller CJ, Carlson JR, Levine JD, Griffith LC. (2007)
Generalization of courtship learning in Drosophila is mediated by cis-Vaccenyl Acetate
Current Biology 17 (7), 599-605

Lucas C, Pho DB, Jallon JM, Fresneau D (2005)
Role of cuticular hydrocarbons in the chemical recognition between ant species in the Pachycondyla villosa species complex
Journal of Insect Physiology 51:1148-1157

Ejima A, Smith BPC, Lucas C, Levine JD, Griffith LC (2005)
Sequential learning of pheromonal cues modulates memory consolidation in trainer-specific associative courtship conditioning
Current Biology 15:194-206
media coverage: Current Biology (dispatch)

Lucas C, Pho DB, Fresneau D, Jallon JM (2004)
Hydrocarbon circulation and colonial signature in Pachycondyla villosa
Journal of Insect Physiology 50:595-607

Soroker V, Lucas C, Simon T, Fresneau D, Durand JL, Hefetz A (2003)
Hydrocarbon distribution and colony odour homogenisation in Pachycondyla apicalis
Insectes Sociaux 50 (3): 212-217

Lucas C, Fresneau D, Kolmer K, Heinze J, Delabie JHC, Pho DB (2002)
A multidisciplinary approach to discriminating different taxa in the species complex Pachycondyla villosa
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 75 (2):249-259

PhD Thesis

Lucas C (2002)
Etude des bases chimiques et comportementales de la formation du "visa" colonial chez les Ponérines du genre Pachycondyla (Formicidae)
Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France 158p.
media coverage: Arte TV documentary

dernière mise à jour : 10.08.18

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