Did you ever think that you might have similar reactions to stimuli as ants do?  

In this experiment, researchers from Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz and Tel Aviv University socially isolated some Acorn worker ants (Temnothorax nylanderi).  Members of this European species typically live in the same colony for their entire lives.  Social isolation is not a common phenomenon for them.  

What the isolation study revealed was that the ants’ reactions mirror some humans.  These ants became less interested in hygiene and changed their self-grooming routines.  Additionally, once the isolation period was over, their interaction with the other colony members also changed.  While they spent more time with the brood, they spent less with the adults.   

Isolated AntMeasurements showed that stress and immune-response genes were downregulated or less active.  This negatively impacts the immune system.  Dr. Susanne Foitzik, one of the study leaders, suggests that the consequence of the immune suppression in the ants may make them more vulnerable to parasites.

By the way, humans have similar immune responses, making us more vulnerable too. 

One more reason to encourage everyone to do whatever it takes for us to get through this pandemic.


Press Release — https://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/13410_ENG_HTML.php

Scientific Paper — Inon Scharf, Marah Stoldt, Romain Libbrecht, Anna Lena Höpfner, Evelien Jongepier, Marion Kever, Susanne Foitzik. Social isolation causes downregulation of immune and stress response genes and behavioral changes in a social insect. Molecular Ecology, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/mec.15902

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