Pathogen defence is a potential driver of social evolution in ambrosia beetles

Nuotclà, Jon A.; Biedermann, Peter; Taborsky, Michael (2019). Pathogen defence is a potential driver of social evolution in ambrosia beetles. Proceedings of the Royal Society. Series B - biological sciences, 286(1917), p. 20192332. Royal Society of London 10.1098/rspb.2019.2332

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Social immunity—the collective behavioural defences against pathogens—is considered a crucial evolutionary force for the maintenance of insect societies. It has been described and investigated primarily in eusocial insects, but its role in the evolutionary trajectory from parental care to eusociality is little understood. Here, we report on the existence, plasticity, effectiveness and consequences of social pathogen defence in experimental nests of cooperatively breeding ambrosia beetles. After an Aspergillus spore buffer solution or a control buffer solution had been injected in laboratory nests, totipotent adult female workers increased their activity and hygienic behaviours like allogrooming and cannibalism. Such social immune responses had not been described for a non-eusocial, cooperatively breeding insect before. Removal of beetles from Aspergillus-treated nests in a paired experimental design revealed that the hygienic behaviours of beetles significantly reduced pathogen prevalence in the nest. Furthermore, in response to pathogen injections, female helpers delayed dispersal and thus prolonged their cooperative phase within their mother's nest. Our findings of appropriate social responses to an experimental immune challenge in a cooperatively breeding beetle corroborate the view that social immunity is not an exclusive attribute of eusocial insects, but rather a concomitant and presumably important feature in the evolutionary transitions towards complex social organization.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Nuotclà, Jon Andreja and Taborsky, Michael

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology

ISSN:

0962-8452

Publisher:

Royal Society of London

Language:

English

Submitter:

Niklas Ingvar Paulsson

Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2020 14:06

Last Modified:

15 Apr 2020 14:21

Publisher DOI:

10.1098/rspb.2019.2332

PubMed ID:

31847779

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.140916

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/140916

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