Collective self-medication in ants.

Nutrition is a major factor influencing host-parasite interactions.

Animals can fight parasites by modifying their food choices to strengthen their immune systems and the parasites, on the other hand, can manipulate their host's foraging behavior to obtain the nutrients they need to thrive.

In this study, Eniko Csata, Alfonso Pérez-Escudero, Emmanuel Laury, Gérard Latil and Audrey Dussutour (CRCA-CBI) and their collaborators studied the role of nutrition in the host-parasite system: the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) and the entomopathogenic fungus (Metarhizium brunneum), and revealed that the modification of food choices observed in ants infected by a fungus is not dictated by the parasite, but by a form of collective self-medication.


© Photo : Sara Arganda & Audrey Dussutour


Légende. Champignon sur le régime optimal riche en acides aminés (en haut à gauche), fourmis non infectées choisissant un régime riche en sucre (en haut à droite), fourmis infectées choisissant le régime optimal du champignon riche en acides aminés (au centre), fourmi injectée avec des cellules de champignon inerte (en bas à droite).


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Contact : Audrey Dussutour