Indian jumping ants have ability to shrink brain and re-grow it — study – The Guardian

Wed 14 Apr 2021 06.00 BST

Generally, whether an ant will be a queen or an employee is chosen at the larval phase. If not, then it is stuck with a profession as a sterile employee denied of the opportunity to switch– unless its part of a species such as the Indian jumping ant.” They have this capability to completely change themselves at the adult phase, and that makes them fascinating to attempt to understand,” stated lead author Dr Clint Penick from US-based Kennesaw State University.Social insects such as ants typically live in a caste-based society– the queen rules as the sole reproducer by secreting pheromones that thwart female worker ants from laying eggs. Within hours of the queens death, a frenzied “ritualised fight” starts, in which employees engage in strong duels that include jamming antennae into each others faces. Their ovaries swell to five times in size filling up the whole abdomen, and their brain diminish by anywhere from 20% to 25%, which scientists suspect is a process created to divert restricted resources to egg production.In this research study, Penick and his team experimentally induced gamergates to return to their initial normal worker status– to examine whether the behavioural and physiological changes were reversible, they wrote in the Royal Societys journal Proceedings B.Using a sample of 30 colonies, the researchers marked 2 mature reproductive employees from each nest.

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Few species in the animal kingdom can alter the size of their brain. Fewer still can alter it back to its original size. Now researchers have found the first insect species with that ability: Indian jumping ants.They are like catnip to researchers in the field. In contrast to their cousins, Indian leaping ants nests do not perish when their queen dies. Rather, “picked” employees take her place– with broadened ovaries and shrunken brains– to produce offspring. If a workers “pseudo-queen” status is in some way revoked, their bodies can bounce back, the research recommends.
Typically, whether an ant will be a queen or a worker is decided at the larval phase.” They have this ability to totally change themselves at the adult phase, and that makes them intriguing to try to understand,” stated lead author Dr Clint Penick from US-based Kennesaw State University.Social pests such as ants usually occupy a caste-based society– the queen rules as the sole reproducer by secreting scents that thwart female worker ants from laying eggs.
Within hours of the queens death, a frenzied “ritualised combat” starts, in which employees engage in strong duels that include jamming antennae into each others faces. Their ovaries swell to five times in size filling up the whole abdomen, and their brain diminish by anywhere from 20% to 25%, which scientists think is a process developed to divert limited resources to egg production.In this research study, Penick and his team experimentally induced gamergates to return to their initial normal employee status– to evaluate whether the behavioural and physiological changes were reversible, they composed in the Royal Societys journal Proceedings B.Using a sample of 30 colonies, the researchers marked 2 mature reproductive workers from each colony. One from each set was left to separate for 3 to 4 weeks in a plastic box and fed occasionally, while the other stayed in its nest.Animals vote, too: how different species choose– or depose– a leaderThe scientists hypothesised that the lack of social interaction and care would lower the isolated gamergate back to employee status when reestablished to its previous nest.
Approximately six to eight weeks later on, Penick was left with the unenviable task of dissecting the small insects to check whether their internal organs had actually reverted to regular worker percentages– which they did.” It opens up chances now to dig into the mechanisms that manage whether a brain region diminishes or grows in size,” he said.

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Nest does not perish when queen dies as picked employees diminish brains and broaden their ovaries

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