How cheating ants give themselves away

January 8, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: ScienceDaily] — In ant society, workers normally give up reproducing themselves to care for their queen’s offspring, who are their brothers and sisters. When workers try to cheat and have their own kids in the queen’s presence, their peers swiftly attack and physically restrain them from reproducing.

Now, a new study published online on January 8th in Current Biology, explains just how the cheaters get caught red-handed. Experimental evidence shows that chemical hydrocarbons produced by those sneaky sorts are a dead giveaway of their fertility status.

The findings represent the first direct evidence that cuticular hydrocarbons are the informational basis for the ants’ reproductive policing, said Jürgen Liebig of Arizona State University.

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Cell Press (2009, January 8). How Cheating Ants Give Themselves Away. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 8, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/01/090108121616.htm