Early queen infection shapes developmental dynamics and induces long-term disease protection in incipient ant colonies

Barbara Casillas-Pérez, Christopher Pull, Filip Naiser, Elisabeth Naderlinger, Jiri Matas & Sylvia Cremer
Infections early in life can have enduring effects on an organism’s development and immunity. In this study, we show that this equally applies to developing “superorganisms” – incipient social insect colonies. When we exposed newly mated Lasius niger ant queens to a low pathogen dose, their colonies grew more slowly than controls before winter, but reached similar sizes afterwards. Independent of exposure, queen hibernation survival improved when the ratio of pupae to workers was small....
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