Could fungal infection make ant societies more open?

Witek, Magdalena and Timus, Natalia and Csata, Enikő and Babik, Hanna and Rákosy, László and Markó, Bálint (2015) Could fungal infection make ant societies more open? In: IVth Central European Meeting of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, 2015.03.26-29, Lichtenfels, Németország.

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Ant colonies are a highly rewarding target for many pathogens and parasites and they also host various species of social parasites that exploit their social system. Myrmica ants seem to be particularly susceptible to exploitation by social parasites and by ecto- and endoparasites. Also many Myrmica colonies frequently adopt unrelated gynes, which can be interpreted as temporary social parasites. Myrmica scabrinodis is a common host of the ectoparasitic fungus Rickia wasmannii and its colonies are used by socially parasitic butterfly larvae of Maculinea genus. In some M. scabrinodis populations both R. wasmannii and Maculinea butterflies occur together using the same host colonies. In our study we used such population to check whether fungal infection change the threshold of acceptance of social parasites and unrelated queens by ants and make colonies more open for strangers. For this purpose we performed experiments during which we tested how infection by R. wasmannii affects frequency and time of Maculinea larva adoption and adoption of unrelated ant queens. We also carried out aggression tests where we used M. scabrinodis workers originating from infected and uninfected colonies to check if fungal infection influences the amount of adverse reactions. Our preliminary results indicate that ants infected by the fungus are more readily adopting social parasites, while being less aggressive towards foreign queens. Thus, infected colonies could be more prone for social parasitism.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH301 Biology / biológia
Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH540 Ecology / ökológia
Q Science / természettudomány > QL Zoology / állattan
Depositing User: dr. Bálint Markó
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2017 19:59
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2017 19:59

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