International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Collective dietary medication in bees

Author(s):
Tamara Gómez-Moracho, Tamara Gómez-Moracho , Philipp Heeb , Cristian Pasquaretta , Mathieu Lihoreau
Institution(s):
Research Center on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Center for Integrative Biology (CBI); CNRS, University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France ; Research Center on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Center for Integrative Biology (CBI); CNRS, University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France ; Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, UMR 5174 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France ; Research Center on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Center for Integrative Biology (CBI); CNRS, University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France ; Research Center on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Center for Integrative Biology (CBI); CNRS, University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
Insects carefully select foods in order to reach nutritional states maximising fitness traits. Once infected by a parasite or a pathogen, individuals can also adjust their feeding preferences to acquire blends of macronutrients that help them combat infections, for instance by enhancing their immune system. Whether and how these dietary medication behaviours scale up at the level of a colony, where food collection is performed by a small minority of individuals, is unknown. Here, we used experimental designs of nutritional geometry to explore how bumblebees regulate their dietary intake of carbohydrates and proteins when they are challenged with the gut parasite Nosema ceranae. We show that challenged individuals tend to increase their intake of protein, and that this dietary change is correlated with a reduced level of infection. We discuss how these observations at the individual level could lead to simple yet efficient social immunity in social insect colonies. 
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