Parasite and Nutrition: how parasite infection influences macronutrient balancing in ants
Enikő Csata, Audrey Dussutour , Enikő Csata
Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale (CRCA), Centre de Biologie Intégrative (CBI), Université de Toulouse; CNRS, UPS, France; Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale (CRCA), Centre de Biologie Intégrative (CBI), 10 Université de Toulouse; UPS, France ; Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale (CRCA), Centre de Biologie Intégrative (CBI), Université de Toulouse; CNRS, UPS, France
The availability of nutrients is a crucial constraint on parasite populations. Food resource quantity and quality influence the abundance and development of parasites and directly shape virulent effects of parasitic infections. Meanwhile, the nutritional state of the individuals influences the ability of host to fight against parasites, increasing an organism’s access to resources can increase its resistance to parasites. In most organisms, the effect of parasite is studied at the individual level, while society level responses are usually neglected. During our research we investigate how social insects, such as ants maintain multiple nutrient supplies at an individual and collective level in response to changes in the nutritional composition of available foods and fungal infection. We address this question using highly organized societies of the invasive ants Linepithema humile and the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum. Our approach will help to understand and unravel through an experimental approach the complexity of this host-parasite system, host behaviours underlying animal nutrition, both at an individual and collective level.