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The response of ants to social isolation is similar to that of humans.



The response of ants to social isolation is similar to that of humans.

A painting of work ants Temnothorax nylanderi. Credit: ill./ ©: Inon Scharf, Tel Aviv University.

Ants respond to social isolation in the same way as humans and other social mammals.A study by an Israeli-German research team has revealed changes in the social behavior and hygiene of isolated ants. Their group The research team was pleasantly surprised by the fact that immune and stress genes decreased in the isolated ants̵

7; brains. “This made the immune system less effective, a phenomenon that was evident in the separation of humans from society in particular. This is especially true during the current COVID-19 crisis, ”said Professor Susanne Foitzik, who leads the study at Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU). Molecular ecology.


The effects of insect isolation on society have been little studied.

Humans and other social mammals experience isolation from their groups as stressors, which negatively affect their well-being and physical health. “Lonely people become more lonely, depressed and anxious, develop addiction more easily, and suffer from weakened immune systems and impaired overall health,” said Professor Inon Scharf, author of the paper and collaborative partner of the group. The Mainz Research at Tel Aviv added. Universities in Israel.

While the effects of isolation have been extensively studied in social mammals such as humans and mice. But little is known how social insects react in comparable situations, even though they live in highly developed social systems. For example, ants spend their entire lives as members of the same colony and depend on their colony mates. Worker ants sacrifice their reproductive potential and devote themselves to feeding the larvae, cleaning and protecting the nest and searching for food, while the queen does little more than laying eggs.

The response of ants to social isolation is similar to that of humans.

Ant species Temnothorax nylanderi.Credit: Susanne Foitzik.

The research team studied the effects of social isolation in the case of the Temnothorax nylanderi ants.These ants lived in burrows in acorns and perched on the ground in European forests, forming colonies of few dozen workers. Young workers working in raising children were brought from 14 colonies and were separated for varying periods ranging from an hour to a maximum of 28 days.

This study was conducted between January and March 2019 and highlighted three key areas of notice of the change. After the end of their separation, the workers were less interested in their adult colony mates. But the time it takes to contact the child increases. They also spend less time taking care of themselves. “Reducing this hygienic behavior may make ants more sensitive to parasites.” But it is a normal aspect of social exclusion in other social beings, ”explains Professor Susanne Foitzik.

Stress due to isolation negatively affects the immune system.

While the study found significant changes in the behavior of isolated insects, the finding about gene activity was even more striking: many genes involved in immune function and stress response were reduced. down In other words, these genes are less active. “The findings are consistent with other social animal studies showing that the immune system is weakened after isolation,” Professor Inon Scharf said.

The discovery by a team of biologists led by Professor Susanne Foitzik is the first of its kind, combining behavioral and genetic analysis with the results of insect social isolation. “Our studies show that ants are affected by isolation as well as social mammals, and show a common link between social well-being, tolerance, tolerance, and persistence.” Foitzik summarizes the results of the Israeli-German study. Foitzik is also collaborating with her Israeli partner Professor Inon Scharf and co-author and group leader, Dr. Romain Libbrecht from JGU, on the project. New venture on the exercise benefits and the molecular basis of spatial learning in ants funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).


The activity of the genes in the defender depends on the invasion of slave ants


More information:
Inon Scharf et al. Social isolation induces a decrease in immune genes and stress responses and behavior changes in social insects. Molecular ecology (2021). FDA: 10.1111 / Jan. 15902

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Reference: Ant responses to social isolation similar to humans (2021, April 7) .Retrieved on April 8, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-ant-responses-social-isolation-resemble. html

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