Indian Jumping Ants Show Unique Plasticity
A group of scientists from Arizona State University and New York University School of Medicine has identified that a particular ant species is distinct i.e. worker ants can shrink and increase the size of their brain when required. In their article published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the team explains their research on Indian jumping ants and what they understood about the pliability of their ovaries and brains.
In most ant species, the queen and the males are the only members that can reproduce in a colony. When the queen dies, the colony usually follows suit. Researchers in the recent findings determined that in the case of Indian jumping ants, it is quite different. If the queen dies, female workers can compete for the queen’s position and if they succeed, they can reduce their brain size and grow their ovary size, enabling them to take on the responsibility of a queen.
In their research, the scientists spent many years observing and dissecting Indian jumping ants to study more about their distinct nature. They identified that when the colony’s queen dies, several female workers start competing for the position. Rivalry comprised mainly of poking other female workers using their antennae. Eventually, they come into agreement and one of the contenders is announced the winner-it is still vague about how the final decision is taken. Particularly, all of the female workers who competed for the queen’s position also did their worker job while the contest was being held. The scientists employed the term gamergate to represent the ant who becomes the queen.
After establishing a new queen, she would start to transform. Her ovaries would increase in size, enabling her to populate the colony. At the same time, her brain would rescue up to 25%. She would even stop generating venom & her behavior would get changed. She would start hiding from intruders rather than fighting & she would never hunt.
To find out further about the modifications in the body, the scientists eliminated a few of the colony’s female workers and enabled them to fight for a new queen. Later, after a winner was announced and the queen’s body changed, the scientists placed this queen back together with the original colony. It was discovered that the other ants prevented this newly placed queen from performing any task for a time period by holding her in place. During this time, the gamergate turned physical back to a female worker ant-a level of plasticity seen for the first time in an insect.
Ants Shrink Their Brain
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