This presentation was given by Sylvia Cremer, Professor at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, and followed by a conversation with Nathalie Stroeymeyt, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol, and Chris Pull, Lecturer at the University of Oxford. Infectious disease can easily spread when hosts live in social groups. On the other hand, the members of social groups can fight disease together. The social insects — the social bees and wasps, ants and termites — have evolved a special form of social group living: the colony. Dr. Cremer presented how ant colonies are protected against disease by the combination of the individual immune defenses of all colony members and their collective hygiene behaviors performed jointly or towards one another. This social immunity is achieved by cooperative actions to reduce pathogen load of the colony and to prevent transmission along the social interaction networks of colony members.
- Cremer 2019, “Social immunity in insects“
- Stroeymeyt et al. 2018, “Social network plasticity decreases disease transmission in a eusocial insect“
- Konrad et al. 2012, “Social transfer of pathogenic fungus promotes active immunization in ant colonies“