Wednesday , March 22 2023

The Ants Take Sick Days too | smart News


When lower cold or flu, you & # 39; choose to keep your distance from others to issalvagwardhom a fate similar work nothing – and in turn can drive yourself. According to a new study, humans are not alone in their efforts to seize the ill. In the presence of & # 39; pathogens transmissible, human oven garden can also change their behavior to keep contaminated recipes & # 39; away from other members of the colony.

Ants are social creatures. Living in large groups, communicate and cooperate with & # 39; other to ensure that the colony work properly. As often in & # 39; close contact, the ants are also vulnerable to diseases. Studies have shown that ants are able to keep diseases at bay through & # 39; number & # 39; mechanisms & # 39; hygiene, such as garbage removal and bodies & # 39; dead colony members from their nests. The scientists Suspecting that insects can also arrange their social behavior to reduce the spread of & # 39; infections, but this hypothesis was, until recently, trying hard.

"The Ant colonies have hundreds & # 39; individuals", explains Nathalie Stroeymeyt, post-doctoral researcher at the University & # 39; Lausanne in Switzerland, studying collective behavior in forms colonies. "S & # 39; now, it was not only the technical methodology for measuring their interactions at the colony level over long periods & # 39; time."

Fortunately, system & # 39; automated tracking developed by Swiss researchers in 2013's Stroeymeyt and her colleagues detailed look about 22 colony & # 39; cattle grown from laboratory behave when the disease is disturbing in & # 39; half. The second team glued tiny barcodes on the ants thoraxes, giving each a unique identifier insect – "like a QR code", says stroeymeyt. Camera positioned & # 39; above the ants compartments handed two images per second, and algorithm discovered and record the position of & # 39; each barcode, giving researchers & # 39; & # 39 abundance; data mining movements.

For four days, the team left the fire ants in their enclosure without disturbances. As in the case of colonies in the wild, some ħdum ants outside the nest to feed for food, while others, like the queen and "nurses" who tend to develop calves remained inside the nest. In five days, the researchers explained some, but not all, of & # 39; employers than 11 colony for fungus Metarhizium brunneum, Often found in the soil of the garden ants habitats and is known to make them sick. Suppliers from 11 other colony were treated with & # 39; benign solution, to serve as group & # 39; control.

B & # 39; Crucially, previous studies have shown that – M. brunneum The fungus takes at least 24 hours to infect the ants, which turn of the time researchers to observe the insects before they were sick.

"We wanted to focus on [this] period … so that we can distinguish the active response of the ants themselves from side effects & # 39; manipulation & # 39; disease or parasite, "explains Stroeymeyt.

Writing in the journal science, The researchers show that when cut the foragers in their enclosure, contaminated ants spent & # 39; more time outside the nest, which means they have less contact with the most valuable members of the colony: the queen to put the entire colony eggs, and workers & # 39; inside, smaller employers and therefore have more hours to contribute to the colony. (Seniors are charged with & # 39; jobs & # 39; risky search out the nest because, as Stroeymeyt raise flawless, "are dying everywhere").

But the crux of the study lies in the discovery that contaminated ants was not the only one to change their behavior. Breeders who were not exposed to the fungus also increased the amount of & # 39; time spent at the nest. And the nurses inside the nest made young & # 39; & # 39 with more interior; inside and spent more time overlap, that "can & # 39; regarded as spatial isolation from the foragers', stroeymeyt says.

How did you know to win in the colony & # 39; & # 39 action, disease prevention before infecting fungal spores were even some who iflaq? Researchers are not clear, but the sense of & # 39; & # 39 strong smell; the animal can & # 39; be important. Wax & # 39; & # 39 take it; their antennae, constantly touching and taken from the area of ​​& # 39; insects. It is entirely possible, according Stroeymeyt, the ant can & # 39; discover festering fungus in & # 39; of its colony members, just as easily as much as you can & # 39; pathogen taste on her own body.

Why not contaminated sheep also reduced the amount of & # 39; & # 39 time spent; nest is another interesting issue. As a first line & # 39; contact with workers who will soon be sick, can & # 39; be b & # 39; any way they know to stay & # 39; away from important members of the colony. But it is also possible that, having found pathogens on employers peers, they simply qattaw more time to treat the contaminated workers & # 39; outside the nest. The insects produce formic acid by & # 39; gland at the tip GASTER, or their abdomen; can kill fungal spores on one another by uploading the formic acid & # 39; their mouths and licking the body of their buddies pathogenic loaded.

Although researchers have recorded fewer interactions between employers and workers & # 39; inside, the contact stopped completely and led to another interesting revelation. When used simulations to benchmark how fungal pathogens spread throughout the colony before the changes of social of ants network, the researchers found that the probability that the queen and nurses receive potentially deadly load fungus decreased, but the likelihood of & # 39; these important ants who received low load increased.

"This is like immunization or vaccination in humans", explains Stroeymeyt. "These low doses do not lead to mortality, but they allow to develop some kind of ant & # 39; protection against later exposure to the same pathogen. What [finding] is also something that is quite new. "

Moving & # 39; forward, Stroeymeyt planning to investigate how pathogens leading to social changes in wild forest colonies, which can be entered in hundreds & # 39; thousands; she suspects that segregation between the indoor and outdoor workers can & # 39; to be more pronounced in & # 39; these large groups.

Megan Frederickson, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University & # 39; Toronto who was not involved in the new study, urges researchers findings "exciting new discovery" brought about by "methods advanced ". It adds that such technology can & # 39; help scientists analyze whether the ants change their social networks to transmit germs & # 39; benefit each other. And Frederickson thinks "the importance [of the study] even beyond ants. "

"Bored," she says, "unless the other social animals reorganize their networks to limit the spread of the disease."

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