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Have the flu? Learn from ants and take off

Biologists have discovered what they say is the first evidence of changes in the myrane's social network through collectively modified…

Biologists have discovered what they say is the first evidence of changes in the myrane’s social network through collectively modified behavior to protect their colonies from potentially fatal infections.

The scientists who intentionally introduced a fungus in the dark colonies grown in their lab found that the fungus-pollinated ants and the undamaged ants stopped apart and showed behavioral changes that protected vulnerable members of their colonies.

“Insulation of diseased individuals has been observed previously in ants and honey bees,” said Nathalie Stroeymeyt, an evolutionary researcher and research scientist at Lausanne University in Switzerland.

“But this is the first time we see behavioral changes in polluted and healthy ants affecting their colonies” social networks. “

The results point to evolutionary mechanisms designed to prevent infections spread within colonies of social interventions ects that are extremely vulnerable to infections due to their high population numbers, frequent physical contact between individuals and genetic similarities.

The study was published In the United States Journal Science on Friday.

Stroeymeyt and her colleagues in Lausanne and the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria, used an automated system to track the movements of thousands of black herbs maintained in 22 colonies, before and after exposing about 1

0 percent of workers’ ants to fungal spores.

They observed changes in the behavior of the mire even before the fungal exposed ants had become ill. In the presence of fungal spores, the ants changed how they interacted – parents and nurses had fewer contacts with each other.

With h With the help of sensitive laboratory technicians, researchers also found that this altered behavior lowered the risk of the transfer of fungal spores from the infected ants to the other.

Some individuals received a high dose of fungus, but more ants received a low dose, which scientists believe can help strengthen their immunity to future infections. 19659002] “The immune system of Myran can handle this lower pathogen level, which provides a form of immune defense,” said Sylvia Cremer, an evolutionary biologist at the Institute for Science and Technology, in a media release.

Stroeymeyt said the exact mechanisms through which the ants can detect the arrival of the fungus and then change their behavior and social networks are unclear.

“The discovery yourself, you are through a sense of smell that is highly developed in ants,” says Stroeymeyt.

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