Worker ants of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your fertility. The highly specialized worker castes in ants represent the pinnacle of social organization in the insect world. As in any society, however, ant colonies are filled with internal strife and conflict. So what binds them together? More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin had an idea and now he's been proven right.Evolutionary biologists at McGill University have discovered molecular signals that can maintain social harmony in ants by putting constraints on their fertility. Dr. Ehab Abouheif, of McGill's Department of Biology, and post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Abderrahman Khila, havediscovered how evolution has tinkered with the genes of colonizing insects like ants to keep them from fighting amongst themselves over who gets to reproduce."We've discovered a really elegant developmental mechanism, which we call 'reproductive constraint,' that challenges the classic paradigm that behaviour, such as policing, is the only way to enforce harmony and squash selfish behaviour in ant societies," said Abouheif, McGill's Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Developmental Biology.
constraint comes into play in these ant societies when evolutionary
forces begin to work in a group context rather than on individuals, the
The process can be seen in the differences between
advanced ant species and their more primitive cousins. The study was
published in the Nov. 18 edition of theProceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
Ants – organized in
colonies around one or many queens surrounded by their specialized
female workers – are classic examples of what are called eusocial
"More primitive, or
ancestral, ants tend to have smaller colony sizes and have much higher
levels of conflict over reproduction than the more advanced species,"
Abouheif explained. "That's because the workers have a much higher
reproductive capacity and there is conflict with the queen to produce
To their surprise, Khila
and Abouheif discovered that "evolution has tinkered with the molecular
signals that are used by the egg to determine what's going to be the
head and what's going to be the tail, to stop the worker ants from
producing viable offspring," Abouheifexplained. "Differe......
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Temperature records will be repeatedly shattered over the next few years, say researchers behind the first rigorous look at how global climate will change during the next decade. The prediction comes from an innovative technique that combines the approaches used by weather forecasters, who typically look a few days ahead, and climate modellers, who produce projections that run up to the end of the century. The result is a model that can project as far as 2015, filling in a long-standing gap in c... Animal Language
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They usually recognize a...Global warming could change Earths tilt
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