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Ants Disinfect Fungus-Exposed Brood by Oral Uptake and Spread of Their Poison

Title data

Tragust, Simon ; Mitteregger, Barbara ; Barone, Vanessa ; Konrad, Matthias ; Ugelvig, Line V. ; Cremer, Sylvia:
Ants Disinfect Fungus-Exposed Brood by Oral Uptake and Spread of Their Poison.
In: Current Biology. Vol. 23 (7 January 2013) Issue 1 . - pp. 76-82.
ISSN 1879-0445
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.11.034

Abstract in another language

To fight infectious diseases, host immune defenses are employed at multiple levels. Sanitary behavior, such as pathogen avoidance and removal, acts as a first line of defense to prevent infection [1] before activation of the physiological immune system. Insect societies have evolved a wide range of collective hygiene measures and intensive health care toward pathogen-exposed group members [2]. One of the most common behaviors is allogrooming, in which nestmates remove infectious particles from the body surfaces of exposed individuals [3]. Here we show that, in invasive garden ants, grooming of fungus-exposed brood is effective beyond the sheer mechanical removal of fungal conidiospores; it also includes chemical disinfection through the application of poison produced by the ants themselves. Formic acid is the main active component of the poison. It inhibits fungal growth of conidiospores remaining on the brood surface after grooming and also those collected in the mouth of the grooming ant. This dual function is achieved by uptake of the poison droplet into the mouth through acidopore self-grooming and subsequent application onto the infectious brood via brood grooming. This extraordinary behavior extends the current understanding of grooming and the establishment of social immunity in insect societies.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER115079
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heike Feldhaar
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 500 Natural sciences
500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2015 09:21
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2015 09:21
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/10868