Institute of Science and Technology, Austria
Disease defense in Insect Societies
The organizational immunity hypothesis proposes that social insect colonies are organized in a way to reduce disease transmission and thus the risk of epidemics in their colonies. It is expected, (i) that the inherent colony sub-structuring into different communities hinders pathogen spread towards the most valuable colony member, the queen, and (ii) that changes in the social interaction network upon colony infection should further impede disease transmission. We test this hypothesis in ants by observing whole-colony interactions before and after pathogen exposure.