Faculty of Mathematics, Physics
and Informatics
Comenius University Bratislava

New study on disease defense within ant colonies

A cross-disciplinary study on cooperative disease defense in ants has been published in the renowned magazine Nature Communications by researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) and the Comenius University in Bratislava

08. 06. 2023 09.37 hod.
By: Katarína Boďová

A recent study has uncovered crucial findings about the collective disease defense within ant colonies. The work explores the influence of individual decisions and information processing on preventing disease spread. Led by experimental biologist Sylvia Cremer from ISTA, the experimentalists observed groups of infected and uninfected ants, and discovered a preference for grooming individuals with a higher pathogen load. Theoretical analysis conducted by Gašper Tkačik (physics, ISTA) and Katarína Boďová (mathematics, FMFI UK) revealed that ants also respond to social feedback regarding their own infectiousness. Together, these factors contribute to a robust mechanism of disease control. The study provides valuable insights into the complex dynamics of disease prevention within ant colonies. For more information, please refer to the article detailing the study's results

This work was supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Slovak Republic (Grant No. 1/0521/20).