Dr. Simon Tragust (Universität Halle)
in: 'Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution': "Protected by poison: a microbial filter in ants"
Mit Dr. Simon Tragust (Universität Halle)
Microbial contamination of food sources poses a potential threat to all animals, especially those that need to preserve food for their offspring or for later consumption. Social insects are not only eminent food hoarders, but also frequently engage in mutual food exchange between colony members, potentially aggravating the threat posed by food borne microbes. In this talk I am going to show experimental data that analogous to the acidic stomachs of higher vertebrates, the poison acidified stomach of formicine ants acts as a chemical filter alleviating the thread posed by food borne pathogens and shaping gut-associated microbial communities. Similar chemical filters, improving the protection from pathogens and manipulating the microbial community, are likely widespread and might be a key feature of a species contributing to its ecological and evolutionary success by, in the case of social species, alleviating the increased risk of pathogen exposure and transmission associated with group living.