In an anthill, thousands live in turmoil. This intensity and frequent contact between individuals are suitable for epidemic diseases. However, in a study published in Science magazine by scientists, UNIL researchers can react to ants when an ant enters the ant.
Ler Immediately, infected ants will isolate themselves, which can detect and respond to pathogens, others will help to heal them and get rid of fungi, and at the same time reorganize. to reduce contamination among them, "says Nathalie Stroeymeyt, author of the author.
Protect the heart of the colony
The biologist studied the 22 colonies of a common species and the black ants of the gardens. Each of the 2266 individuals was identified using a digital marker. Photos are recorded every half-second, and in the presence of pathogens between animals, in this case the fungal cells.
The results are official: insects change their behavior just one hour after the first worker's infection. The trade of infected ants is reduced to protect the heart of the colony, the queen and the young.
"Young workers are more important because they have a lot of work to do in society, and if there is a risk of contamination, ants rush them to older people who reach the end of life. They live a little longer in the middle," explains Nathalie Stroeymeyt.
Biologists have confirmed that the mortality rate is actually greater in the feeders than in the older and specialist areas; they stayed among the feeders, with the queen and the dog. The queens have survived.
70 million years ago in front of man
This strategy to control outbreaks, in addition to other behaviors known to be protected against disease in ants. In the colony, insects distinguish dirty activities from dirty people by creating cemeteries and waste disposal as in humans.
The only difference is that the director of the UNIL Laurent Keller Agency for Ecology and Evolution said "ants have been doing this for 70 million years".
Aurélie Coulon / fme