Many genes related to immune system function and stress response were downregulated.
In other words, these genes were less active. "This finding is consistent with studies on other social mals that demonstrated a weakening of the immune system after isolation," said Professor Inon Scharf.
The discovery by the team of biologists led by Professor Susanne Foitzik is the first of its kind, combining behavioural and genetic analyses on the effects of isolation in social insects. "Our study shows that ants are as affected by isolation as social mammals are and suggests a general link between social well-being, stress tolerance, and immunocompetence in social mals," concluded Foitzik, summarizing the results of the Israeli-German study.
Foitzik is also collaborating with her Israeli partner Professor Inon Scharf and with co-author and group leader Dr. Romain Libbrecht of JGU on a new joint project on the fitness benefits and the molecular basis of spatial learning in ants, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
( With inputs from ANI )
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