Lock-picks: fungal infection facilitates the intrusion of strangers into ant colonies

Csata, Enikő and Timus, Natalia and Witek, Magdalena and Casacci, Luca Pietro and Lucas, Christophe and Bagneres, Anne-Genevieve and Sztencel-Jablonka, Anna and Barbero, Francesca and Bonelli, Simona and Rákosy, László and Markó, Bálint (2017) Lock-picks: fungal infection facilitates the intrusion of strangers into ant colonies. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7 (46323). pp. 1-14. ISSN 2045-2322


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Studies investigating host-parasite systems rarely deal with multispecies interactions, and mostly explore impacts on hosts as individuals. Much less is known about the effects at colony level, when parasitism involves host organisms that form societies. We surveyed the effect of an ectoparasitic fungus, Rickia wasmannii, on kin-discrimination abilities of its host ant, Myrmica scabrinodis, identifying potential consequences at social level and subsequent changes in colony infiltration success of other organisms. Analyses of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), known to be involved in insects’ discrimination processes, revealed variations in chemical profiles correlated with the infection status of the ants, that could not be explained by genetic variation tested by microsatellites. In behavioural assays, fungus infected workers were less aggressive towards both non nestmates and unrelated queens, enhancing the probability of polygyny. Likewise, parasitic larvae of Maculinea butterflies had a higher chance of adoption by infected colonies. Our study indicates that pathogens can modify host recognition abilities, making the society more prone to accept both conspecifc and allospecifc organisms.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH359-425 Evolution (Biology) / evolúció
Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH540 Ecology / ökológia
Q Science / természettudomány > QL Zoology / állattan > QL750-QL782.5 Animal behavior / etológia, állat-viselkedéstan
Depositing User: dr. Bálint Markó
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2017 19:54
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2017 19:54

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