Queen ants study to be single moms | Science | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

If there may be an animal that is aware of about hierarchies, it’s the ant. In all species, the greater than 13,000 that exist, these small social bugs are organized by the division of duties: the queens lay the eggs, the males fertilize, and the employees—wingless and sterile females—are in control of caring for the offspring. , seek for meals and construct the nest. When a colony is based, the monarch takes custody of its first daughters. Then the chief focuses on laying eggs and doesn’t assume caretaker roles once more. Or so it was thought.

New analysis has found that if the employees disappear, and because the males often die after reproducing, the queen learns to be a single mom and returns to caring for her infants herself. The discovery, revealed this Tuesday within the journal Functional Ecology, challenges the prevailing view that queen specialization is innate and irreversible.

“We expected that the queen's specialization would be robust and not dependent on environmental conditions,” explains Romain Libbrecht, creator of the research. A crew of researchers from the National Center for Scientific Research of France, led by this biologist, has now proven that the work of the employees is the issue that triggers and situations the queen to cease caring for the offspring and handle laying eggs. .

Traditionally, this division of labor—inside the superorganism that may be a colony—has been assumed “as something fixed,” provides Xim Cerdá, a biologist on the Department of Ethology and Biodiversity Conservation of the CSIC, who has not participated within the research. The investigation; However, it means that this specialization “is more flexible than normally assumed and can be reversed,” says Cerdá. Libbrecht agrees. For his crew, probably the most shocking factor was to find that specialised queens grow to be unspecialized in a short time if confronted with the absence of employees, even after a number of years of dedicating themselves completely to laying eggs.

The discovery is the results of 17 experiments and greater than 3,000 hours of video recordings, utilizing the widespread backyard ant as a mannequin (Lasius niger). By isolating the queen, they have been capable of research the period of take care of the eggs and larvae in several situations: with and with out meals, with and with out younger employees, and in addition by eradicating the employees after having had them for 30 or 38 months. Libbrecht particulars that probably the most difficult half was having the ability to experimentally manipulate the presence of employees round queens that had not but produced any, as a result of once they have been from completely different colonies they attacked one another. “The solution we found was to use very young workers, less than 8 or 10 hours old,” explains the creator of the research.

After analyzing the information collected, they discovered that queens which were remoted get well non-reproductive behaviors, that’s, they return to work caring for his or her offspring. They do it instantly, generally in lower than 24 hours; at most, as much as three days after the absence of employees. And as soon as they’ve adopted that function of single caring moms, it is sufficient to return a few the employees to their work for the queen to cease caring for the younger and dedicate herself once more completely to egg manufacturing. Of course, these employees should be capable to do their job, as a result of if the employees are close by, however are prevented from finishing up their duties of caring for the brood, the queen does it in her place. Cerdá provides: “Only the real presence of workers induces behavioral change.” To affirm the outcomes, they lastly analyzed one other species, the Temnothorax nylanderi, and located related behaviors.

The discovery highlights the essential function of the social setting within the improvement of behaviors. Since little or no is understood concerning the emergence and upkeep of queen specialization, and the method of group, acquiring new data “may change our understanding of how the division of labor is regulated and how it arose and evolved in the first place,” assures Libbrecht. Her discovery has the potential to make clear the societies of different bugs—together with these of bumblebees, bees, termites and wasps—which, like ant colonies, are thought of extremely specialised superorganisms.

You can comply with MATERIA in Facebook, X e Instagramclick on right here to obtain our weekly publication.

Subscribe to proceed studying

Read with out limits