Natures wonders: ants who are slave owners (Introduction)

by dhw, Monday, March 04, 2019, 13:19 (492 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: Significantly, major changes in ant behavior can be triggered by individual genes. (David's bold) One particularly important gene is Vitellogenin-like A, which is very active in brood carers. If this gene is downregulated, the workers stop caring for the colony's offspring and spend more time (dhw's bold) caring for adult nestmates. The findings of the researchers from Mainz show that the gene Vitellogenin-like A influences the workers' sensitivity to brood odors. If the ants no longer sense the brood, they stop caring for them. These experiments show how the division of labor in social insect societies is regulated in that group members react in different ways to specific stimuli associated with distinct tasks in the ant society.

DAVID: complete evidence for automatic behavior controlled by their genes.

We know that behaviour can alter genes and genes can alter behaviour. Does the “downregulation” force them to change jobs or does it occur BECAUSE the ants have decided to change jobs? They would hardly do that if there wasn’t a need for them to do it. I would also like to know what changes occur in the genes that are sensitive to adult nestmates as well as when these changes occur in relation to the new behaviour. I am suspicious of “spend more time” (bolded). So do they all spend some time caring for the brood? Or do some ants go on caring for the brood, but others change their jobs according to need?

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