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The small creatures - Insects, Invertebrates and bugs

Argentina Tshokwane Offline
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#16

Termite soldiers contribute to social immunity by synthesizing potent oral secretions:

Abstract

The importance of soldiers to termite society defense has long been recognized, but the contribution of soldiers to other societal functions, such as colony immunity, is less well understood. We explore this issue by examining the role of soldiers in protecting nestmates against pathogen infection. Even though they are unable to engage in grooming behavior, we find that the presence of soldiers of the Darwin termite, Mastotermes darwiniensis, significantly improves the survival of nestmates following entomopathogenic infection. We also show that the copious exocrine oral secretions produced by Darwin termite soldiers contain a high concentration of proteins involved in digestion, chemical biosynthesis, and immunity. The oral secretions produced by soldiers are sufficient to protect nestmates against infection, and they have potent inhibitory activity against a broad spectrum of microbes. Our findings support the view that soldiers may play an important role in colony immunity, and broaden our understanding of the possible function of soldiers during the origin of soldier‐first societies.
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Argentina Tshokwane Offline
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#17

Credits to Termite Research Team.

Termite of the Week


Amitermes meridionalis (Froggatt, 1898), tzv. kompasový termit, neboť hnízda jsou plochá a orientovaná severojižním směrem. Pro srovnání velikosti dospělého hnízda, Jan Šobotník (185 cm) a David Sillam-Dussès.

Amitermes meridionalis (Froggatt, 1898), so-called compass termite, as the nests are flat and of North-South orientation. For a comparison of the size of a mature nest, see Jan Šobotník (185 cm) and David Sillam-Dussès.

*This image is copyright of its original author
‘Like night-watchmen they patrol the dark nights; marching with intent and chasing all those unwanted into the shadows…those that do not run are removed’
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United States Polar Offline
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#18

That is extremely interesting how these animals can orient their termite nests to north-south direction...proof of them being much smarter than we think. Kind of like birds (and many other animals) "knowing" exactly when a disaster will strike based on magnetic deflections and senses.
"We are all programmed by modern society into narcissism and pessimism, unlike our earlier relatives."

- Max Igan
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(04-23-2018, 11:21 PM)Polar Wrote: That is extremely interesting how these animals can orient their termite nests to north-south direction...proof of them being much smarter than we think. Kind of like birds (and many other animals) "knowing" exactly when a disaster will strike based on magnetic deflections and senses.Reply

Without trying to shove it down your throat, about your question, Proverbs 30: 24, 25 says:

24 Four things on earth are among the smallest, But they are instinctively wise:

25 The ants are not strong creatures, Yet they prepare their food in the summer.

Then it goes on describing characteristics he found interesting on animals. 

The point of it all is to point out the instinctive "knowledge" or "wisdom" or "intelligence" animals have (without them using man's rational intelligence), and all of it was put there by God when he created them.

Just my two cents.
‘Like night-watchmen they patrol the dark nights; marching with intent and chasing all those unwanted into the shadows…those that do not run are removed’
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#20

Credits to Termite Research Team.

Termite of the Week


Nasutitermes triodiae (Froggatt, 1898) (Nasutitermitinae) je trávožravý termit ze severní Austrálie, který staví obrovská termitiště. Pro srovnání velikosti, Jan Šobotník a David Sillam-Dussès stojí vedle hnízda.

Nasutitermes triodiae (Froggatt, 1898) (Nasutitermitinae) is a cathedral-mound building termite feeding at dry grasses in North Australia. For size comparison, Jan Šobotník and David Sillam-Dussès stand next to the mound.

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#21

Credits to ScienceDaily.

Leafcutter ants' success due to more than crop selection:

Genetic analysis finds leafcutter ants originated in South America


Date: May 9, 2018

Source: Rice University

Summary: A complex genetic analysis has biologists re-evaluating some long-held beliefs about the way societies evolved following the invention of agriculture -- by six-legged farmers.

*This image is copyright of its original author

A complex genetic analysis has biologists re-evaluating some long-held beliefs about the way societies evolved following the invention of agriculture -- by six-legged farmers.


Like humans, leafcutter ants grow crops, and like humans, farming allows the ants to produce enough food to support millions of individuals who work at specialized jobs. But while people invented agriculture at the dawn of civilization about 10,000 years ago, leafcutters began cultivating massive subterranean fungus gardens more than 10 million years ago.

In a study published this week in Molecular Ecology, biologists from Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and Brazil's São Paulo State University analyzed genetic data from samples collected at leafcutter nests throughout South, Central and North America and concluded that the ants originated in South America and owe their success to something more than their choice of crops.

"The ability to grow domesticated crops was a major turning point in human history and evolution, and we thought, until recently, that a similar thing was true for leafcutters," said study co-author Scott Solomon, an evolutionary biologist at Rice who collected many of the study's samples as a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. "Our findings suggest that several of the things we thought we 'knew' about leafcutters are not true."

The research, led by co-author Ulrich Mueller, Solomon's longtime UT collaborator and mentor, is available in both the newly published paper and a 2017 companion study, also published in Molecular Ecology.

"This study started 20 years ago as a collaboration between Brazilian and Texan labs and developed into a huge collaboration involving 22 labs surveying leafcutter ants in 17 countries," said Mueller, the William Morton Wheeler-Lost Pines Professor in UT Austin's Department of Integrative Biology. "Because of this international effort, we now have a comprehensive understanding of leafcutter ecology and evolution."

Leafcutter ants are found only in the Americas. More than 40 species range from Argentina to the southern United States, and they are a dominant ecological player in any forest or grassland they inhabit.

"They aren't the only ants that grow fungi, but if you compare leafcutter ants with other ants that grow fungi, there are many differences," Mueller said. "For starters, no other ants use freshly cut leaves to grow their fungi."

Ants that grow fungus on dead and decaying leaves have been around even longer than leafcutters, probably about 50 million years, Solomon said. But leafcutters' ability to use living leaves was a quantum leap in evolutionary terms because it opened up the entire ecosystem. For example, Solomon said, the ability to consume plant matter they cannot directly digest allows a nest of leafcutters to consume about as much vegetation each year as a full-grown cow.

"Once you can use fresh leaves, it gives you access to so much more food," Solomon said. "If you can grow and raise your crop on any leaf that's growing out there, then the sky's the limit."

In comparison with other fungus-growing ants, leafcutter colonies are enormous, Solomon said. "They're on the order of millions of individuals. Some leafcutter colonies are so large that they show up on photos taken by satellites in space."

Leafcutters also have specialized tasks. Individual worker ants come in different sizes, and they have different jobs.

"Some are specialized on raising the young," Solomon said. "Others are specialized on removing weeds and disease inside the nest. Others are specialized on going out and finding food, and yet others are specialized on defending the colony.

"All of the specialization is unique to the leafcutters," he said. "With other fungus-growing ants, the workers are basically interchangeable. They don't have these specialized tasks.

"One of the long-held truths of our field was that leafcutters grow a special and unique kind of fungus that no other ant could grow," Solomon said. "It was thought that something about that unique crop allowed them to do these things that other fungus-growing ants couldn't do."

The new studies, which are the first to analyze the genes of fungi from hundreds of leafcutter colonies across the Americas, found instances where other ants grew the specialized "leafcutter-only" fungus, as well as instances where leafcutters grew more generic fungal crops.

"It's not the crop that makes them special," Mueller said. "We found that leafcutter ants and their fungi have co-evolved, and while that's not a surprise, the evidence suggests that this co-evolution occurred in a more complex way than previously believed.

"For example, we found that the type of fungi that was long thought to be unique to leafcutters can be grown by other ants on dead plant material," he said. "In one case, it'll be grown on fresh vegetation, and in another case, it won't."

Solomon said, "The question is what gives this fungus the ability to digest freshly cut leaves? It's not something that is inherent in the fungus. There seems to be something about the way the leafcutter ants are cultivating the fungus that gives it that ability."

Solomon began collecting leaf-cutting ants and their fungi in Central America in 2002 as a graduate student in Mueller's lab. In 2007 Solomon expanded his work, thanks to a National Science Foundation (NSF) international postdoctoral fellowship that allowed him to spend a year working with study co-author Mauricio Bacci Jr. at São Paulo State University in Rio Claro, Brazil. Solomon's samples and dozens of others gathered over the years by Mueller's and Bacci's teams allowed the researchers to pinpoint the origin of leafcutters to South America, probably in the grassland plains of what is now southern Brazil and Argentina, Solomon said.

"We sampled tons of different nests of leafcutter ant species throughout the entire range of all leafcutters, which goes from Texas in the extreme north down to Argentina," Solomon said. "What's novel about our approach is how much sampling there was, particularly in South America. In the past, there has been a lot of sampling, but it was focused in just a few different regions, particularly in Costa Rica and Panama.

"It turns out the leafcutters in those places don't represent species that live elsewhere," he said. "By going and sampling in other places, especially in the open grasslands of southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina, we were able to show that the greatest genetic diversity of leafcutter fungi is in South America. Usually, wherever there's the greatest genetic diversity is where a group originated. That is true for humans, and that's just generally true of other species, and that leads us to believe the leafcutters originated in the grasslands of South America."

Mueller said, "The study illustrates the importance in science of re-evaluating entrenched assumptions, amassing large data sets and collaborating internationally before reaching conclusions."
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Argentina Tshokwane Offline
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#22

Credits to Termite Research Team.

Termite of the Week


Macrotermes Holmgren, 1909 (Macrotermitinae) nalezený v Thajsku. Všimněte si rozdílů mezi vojáky: ten napravo je normální velký voják, zatímco nalevo je voják parazitovaný mouchou hrbilkou rodu Misotermes, což je jediný ne-termit s typicky termitím jménem.

Macrotermes Holmgren, 1909 (Macrotermitinae) collected in Thailand. Note the differences between the two soldiers: the one on the right is a normal large soldier, while the one on the left is parasitised by phorid fly Misotermes, the only non-termite organism with a typical termite name.

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