Nav: Home

When working ants take a sick day, the whole colony benefits

November 22, 2018

Scientists have shown that the social insect Lasius niger (or black garden ant) changes its behavior following exposure to a fungus, a strategy that protects the most vulnerable and important members of the colony from infection. Their findings, which have been difficult for researchers to measure tangibly, provide the first evidence that animal social networks can adapt to decrease the spread of disease. Here, Nathalie Stroeymeyt and colleagues tested whether colonies change their patterns of social contact in response to the threat of infection by developing an automated tracking system that zeroed in on 22 colonies for 24 hours. They closely studied the movement of both individual ants exposed to Metarhizium brunneum spores and of their unexposed nestmates, comparing social network activities before and after introduction of the spores. Interestingly, not only did infected workers alter their behavior after exposure, but healthy workers altered their behavior toward their infected counterparts, the authors found. They observed that both exposed and unexposed workers maintained their distance from indoor workers by active isolation - increasing their time outside away from the nest. Indoor workers, too, increased their movement to avoid further interaction with colony members. Stroeymeyt et al. saw that such responses kept fungal infection at bay. The responses among the ants were potentially triggered by chemical or mechanical cues associated with Metarhizium brunneum spores, they say, though additional research is needed to better grasp the underlying detection processes involved. The ants' ability to adopt a flexible social network on demand may represent a widespread tactic to survive environmental hazards, according to the authors, minimizing risk to high-value colony members including the queen and young workers.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Fungus Articles:

International screening of the effects of a pathogenic fungus
The pathogenic fungus Candida auris, which first surfaced in 2009, is proving challenging to control.
Research breakthrough in fight against chytrid fungus
For frogs dying of the invasive chytridiomycosis disease, the leading cause of amphibian deaths worldwide, the genes responsible for protecting them may actually be leading to their demise, according to a new study published today in the journal Molecular Ecology by University of Central Florida and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) researchers.
Researchers look to fungus to shed light on cancer
A team of Florida State University researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry found that a natural product from the fungus Fusicoccum amygdali stabilizes a family of proteins in the cell that mediate important signaling pathways involved in the pathology of cancer and neurological diseases.
The invisibility cloak of a fungus
The human immune system can easily recognize fungi because their cells are surrounded by a solid cell wall of chitin and other complex sugars.
Taming the wild cheese fungus
The flavors of fermented foods are heavily shaped by the fungi that grow on them, but the evolutionary origins of those fungi aren't well understood.
Candida auris is a new drug-resistant fungus emerging globally and in the US early detection is key to controlling spread of deadly drug-resistant fungus
Early identification of Candida auris, a potentially deadly fungus that causes bloodstream and intra-abdominal infections, is the key to controlling its spread.
Genetic blueprint for extraordinary wood-munching fungus
The first time someone took note of Coniochaeta pulveracea was more than two hundred years ago, when the South African-born mycologist Dr Christiaan Hendrik Persoon mentioned it in his 1797 book on the classification of fungi.
How a fungus can cripple the immune system
An international research team led by Professor Oliver Werz of Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, has now discovered how the fungus knocks out the immune defenses, enabling a potentially fatal fungal infection to develop.
North American checklist identifies the fungus among us
Some fungi are smelly and coated in mucus. Others have gills that glow in the dark.
Tropical frogs found to coexist with deadly fungus
In 2004, the frogs of El Copé, Panama, began dying by the thousands.
More Fungus News and Fungus Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.