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CNRS Research Director
Tél : 02 47 367348

Technical skills:

Skills in GC and GC-MS of insect semiochemicals

Skills in European subterranean termite field, damages, pest control... 


Research theme:

Take care I will move officially for a new place from the 1st of September:



– Universités de Montpellier – EPHE

1919 route de Mende

F-34293 Montpellier Cedex 5

Tel +33 4 67 61 32 32

Mobile: +33(0)6 81 13 23 77

Email :


My CV in 2 pages


Summary of my centres of interest

The main lines of my researches concern - the integrative study of insect societies, focusing on European subterranean termites, from evolutionary ecology to the characteristics of their life history, - and chemical ecology in general but social insects in particular through the concept of chemical signature.

My centres of interest in these fields are:

-          Phylogeny and the differentiation of European termite species of the genus Reticulitermes

-          Their modes of reproduction and caste differentiation

-          Invasion biology in European termites

-          Recognition systems in insects

-          Chemical interactions in social insects via cuticular compounds

I am also involved in the dissemination of scientific knowledge and exploiting the results of research.

A new book on Chemical Ecology just came out in september 2016 coedited by M. Hossaert-Mckey and myself (ISTE-WILEY ed)


More detailed description 

Social insects, Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps) and Isoptera (termites), have reached the highest level of social organisation in the animal kingdom. Their societies are characterised by a division of labour, between reproductive individuals and individuals that are generally sterile that carry out the essential tasks of the society (polyethism). Isoptera are different from Hymenoptera in having a diplo-diploid sex determination system, a hemi-metabolic mode of development and a sex ratio that is often balanced (SR~0.5) within the various castes. The termites studied are Reticulitermes (photo 1), the only genus of subterranean termites found naturally or through anthropogenic intervention throughout France. Six species have now been described. Reticulitermes are unusual in that they produce many secondary reproductives (neotenics) and are, therefore, particularly suitable for studying the caste differentiation mechanisms at the same time as their consequences in the different reproduction strategies. Producing many reproductives may seem a paradox in the altruistic world of social insects. I am particularly interested in their recognition processes, their interaction with the environment, for example with predators such as ants, and their biology in general as much less is known about it than for other social insects, because of their underground life. I am also interested in their origin and evolutionary history of the various species, and their migrations through anthropogenic intervention. Although man considers them as pests, they act as useful xylophages in our temperate ecosystem. I am fascinated by the dichotomy between the harmful and beneficial views which I find sociologically and ecologically important. The impact of climate change which is taking place will probably affect the distribution of the species in Europe. In recent years we have described two invasive species of termite, one from the USA (probably from Louisiana), R. flavipes, and one from the Balkans, R. urbis. By modifying their reproduction strategies, both species have extremely high dispersion capacities. The study of biological invasions is, therefore, an aspect that should be taken into account both for the resultant competition with endemic species and for these modifications in the biology of the species. This has been the subject of several articles published in recent years.

The chemical signature is involved in recognition between individuals in social species (ants, termites, wasps, etc) as well as in non social species (flies, sundry parasitoids, etc). It is one of the keystones of cohesion within social species. Various factors, not well known or even totally unknown, govern the setting up and maintenance of this chemical signature which is composed essentially of hydrocarbons. It is present on the cuticle (exoskeleton) of insects in particular and arthropods in general. I was one of the first scientists to develop the concept of the chemical signature which is now accepted by the international community. GJ Blomquist and I published a book on this subject in 2010 (see photo 2, and list of publications). In the course of many collaborative projects, I have studied the recognition processes by contact of around one hundred species, ranging from mammals to invertebrates, describing the complex mixtures that form this signature, which is a chemical barcode that identifies insects at levels from individuals up to species. I am interested in its role in recognition between individuals and its links with the biology of living beings. Of particular interest are changes in the signature caused by social and other forms of parasitism and the resulting behaviour (see my publications). The vast, complex field of chemical ecology is, therefore, one of my great passions.

The chemical signature can shed light on many aspects of the study of social insects - specific variations, colonial variations, variations between castes - and on their social structure and invasive capacity (figure 2). It is not only an excellent taxonomic index for the species in which we are interested but an indication of the evolution of the species.


The different evolutionary and phylogenetic paths of European termites are some of the best known now owing to the recent progress made by my team, which is the only team dedicated to the multidisciplinary integrative study of European termites.


Thank you to all my collaborators without whom these pages would not exist…



Major publications


Selections de publications

La liste de mes publications (depuis 1995) est dans la liste de publications de l'équipe


      Lefebvre T., Vargo E.L., Zimmermann M., Dupont S., Kutnik M. & Bagnères A.-G. Subterranean termite phylogeography reveals multiple postglacial colonization events and parapatric speciation in southwestern Europe. Ecology and Evolution, 6(16), 5987-6004. 


Lefebvre et al.pdf


LeConte Y., Huang Z.Y., Roux M., Zeng Z. J., Christidès J.-P., Bagnères A.-G., 2015. Varroa destructor changes cuticular hydrocarbons to mimic its new host, even when the new host is of a different species. Biology Letters 11: 20150233.



Bagnères A.-G. & Robert Hanus. 2015. Chapitre 15. Communication and Social Regulation in Termites. Pp. 193-248. In: Social Recognition in Invertebrates: The Knowns and the Unknowns. Eds. Laura Aquiloni, Elena Tricarico. Publisher: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-17598-0.



Lorenzi M.C., Azzani L. & Bagnères A.-G., 2014. Evolutionary consequences of deception: Complexity and informational content of colony signature are favored by social parasitism. Current Zoology, 60, 137–148. Lorenzi-etAl_CZ2014.pdf


Perdereau, E., Bagnères, A.-G., Bankhead-Dronnet, S., Zimmermann, M., Dupont, S., Vargo, E.L., and Dedeine, F. 2013. Global genetic analysis reveals the putative native source of the invasive termite,Reticulitermes flavipes.Molecular Ecology, 22, 1105-1119.



Leniaud L., Darrouzet E., Dedeine, F., Ahn, K., Huang Z.Y. & Bagnères A.-G. 2011. Ontogenic potentialities of the worker caste in two subterranean  termites.  Evolution & Development, 13(2), 138-148. LeniaudEDE2011.pdf

Perdereau, E., Dedeine, F., Christidès, J.-P., Dupont, S., & Bagnères, A.-G. 2011. Competition between invasive and indigenous species: an insular case study of subterranean termites. Biological invasions, 13, 1457-1470.PerdereauBiolInv2011.pdf


Blomquist G.J. and Bagnères A.-G. 2010. Insect Hydrocarbons: Biology, Biochemistry and Chemical Ecology. Cambridge University Press. 500p.


Perdereau, E., Dedeine, F., Christidès, J.-P., & Bagnères A.-G. 2010. Variations in worker cuticular hydrocarbons and soldier iosprenoid defensive secretions within and among introduced and native populations of the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 39, 1189-1198.


Dronnet S., Lohou C., Christidès J.-P. & Bagnères A.-G. 2006. Cuticular hydrocarbon composition reflects genetic relationship among colonies of the introduced termiteReticulitermes santonensis Feytaud. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 32, 1027-1042. Dronnet_et_al_2006JCE.pdf

Kutnik M., Uva P., Brinkworth L. & Bagnères A.-G. 2004. Phylogeography of two European  Reticulitermes (Isopteraspecies: the Iberian refugium. Molecular Ecology,13, 3099-3113. Kutnik_mec.pdf

Fan Y., Schal C., Vargo   E.L. & Bagnères  A.-G.  2004. Characterization of termite lipophorin and its involvement in hydrocarbon transport. Journal of Insect Physiology, 50, 609-620. Fan_etal_JIP2004.pdf

Uva P., Clément J.-L., Austin J.W., Aubert J., Zaffagnini V., Quintana A. & Bagnères A.-G. 2004. Origin of a new Reticulitermes termite (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae) inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution,30, 344-353.


Clément J.-L., Bagnères  A.-G., Uva P., Wilfert L., Quintana A., Reinhard J. & Dronnet S. 2001. Biosystematics of Reticulitermes termites in Europe. Morphological, chemical, molecular data.  Insectes Sociaux, 48, 202-215.


Bagnères A.-G., Rivière G., & Clément J.-L. 1998. Artificial neural network modeling of caste odor discrimination based on cuticular hydrocarbons in termites Chemoecology, 8, 201-209. BagneresChemoecology1998.pdf

Clément J.-L. and Bagnères A.-G. 1998. Nestmate recognition in Termites. InPheromone Communication in Social Insects: Ants, Wasps, Bees, and Termites, R.K. Vander Meer, M. Breed, M. Winston, K. Espelie (Eds), Westview Press, Chap. 6,  126-155.


Lorenzi M.-C.,Bagnères A.-G., Clément J.-L & Turillazzi S. 1997. Polistes biglumis bimaculatus epicuticular hydrocarbons and nestmate recognition (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Insectes Sociaux, 44, 123-138. LorenziIS1997.pdf

Bagnères  A.-G.,  Lorenzi M.-C., Dusticier G., Turillazzi S & Clément J.-L. 1996. Chemical usurpation of a nest by paper wasp parasites. Science, 272, 889-892.


Finidori-Logli V., Bagnères A.-G. & Clément J.-L. 1996. Role of plant volatiles in the search for a host by parasitoid Diglyphus isaea (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae). Journal of Chemical Ecology, 22, 541-558.


Provost  E., Rivière G., Roux M., Morgan E.D. & Bagnères  A.-G. 1993. Change in the chemical signature of the ant Leptothorax lichtensteini Bondroit with time.  Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 23, 945-957.  Provost_et_al_InsectBiochemMolBiol1993.pdf


Bonavita-Cougourdan  A., Theraulaz G., Bagnères  A.-G., Roux M., Pratte  M., Provost E & Clément J.-L. 1991. Cuticular hydrocarbons, social organization and ovarian development in a Polistes wasp: Polistes dominulus Christ. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B, 100, 667-680.


Bagnères  A.-G.,  Killian A., Clément J.-L & Lange  C. 1991. Interspecific recognition among termites of the genus Reticulitermes: Evidence for a role for the hydrocarbons.Journal of Chemical Ecology, 17, 2397-2420.


Bagnères  A.-G and Morgan E.D. 1991. The postpharyngeal glands and the cuticle of Formicidae contain the same characteristic hydrocarbons.Experientia, 47, 106-111. 


Bagnères  A.-G.,  Errard C., Mulheim C., Joulie C & Lange  C. 1991. Induced mimicry of colony odors in ants. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 17, 1641-1664.


Bagnères  A.-G., Clément J.-L.,  Blum M.S., Severson  R.F., Joulie C. & Lange C. 1990. Cuticular hydrocarbons and defensive compounds of Reticulitermes flavipes(Kollar) and R. santonensis (Feytaud): Polymorphism and chemotaxonomy. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 16, 3213-3244.



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