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Type: Journal article
Title: Resistance to nutritional stress in ants: When being fat is advantageous
Author: Dussutour, A.
Poissonnier, L.
Buhl, J.
Simpson, S.
Citation: The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2016; 219(6):824-833
Publisher: Company of Biologists
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 0022-0949
Statement of
Audrey Dussutour, Laure-Anne Poissonnier, Jerome Buhl, Stephen J. Simpson
Abstract: In ants, nutrient acquisition for the whole colony relies on a minority of workers, the foragers, which are often old and lean. Some studies have shown that the link between age, physiology and foraging activity is more flexible than once thought, especially in response to colony or environmental perturbations. This great plasticity offers the intriguing possibility to disentangle the effect of age, behaviour and physiology on the ants' abilities to cope with nutritional stresses. In this paper, we first looked at the capacity of groups of foragers and inner-nest workers to resist starvation and macronutrient imbalance. Second, we investigated whether behavioural task reversion modified the tolerance to nutritional stresses and by extension, changed mortality rate. We found that inner-nest workers live longer than foragers under nutritional stresses but not under optimal conditions. The reversion from foraging to inner-nest activities is followed by an increase in fat content and longevity. Finally, we demonstrated that changes in fat content associated with behavioural transition are highly flexible and strongly correlated to tolerance of nutritional stress. Our results have considerable implications for our understanding of the population dynamics of social insects under adverse nutritional conditions.
Keywords: Ants; flexibility; fat; lifespan; nutrition
Rights: © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.136234
Appears in Collections:Agriculture, Food and Wine publications
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