Researchers Remove An Ant’s Ability To Communicate

Researchers Remove An Ant’s Ability To CommunicateAnt's

You have certainly heard of pheromones before, but they may be more important to life on earth than you think. You may know that humans secrete pheromones, or an odor, that basically gives other people an idea about who you are, genetically speaking. Humans are obviously not aware of this process of communication, but pheromones say a lot. We have heard that pheromones help determine which people we find attractive. While this is true, pheromones do a whole lot more than that. Pheromones are secreted by natures animals in order to facilitate the development of the entire species. Some animals use pheromones all of the time. Some insects, such as ants, cannot live without both the ability to sense and secrete pheromones. To humans pheromones play an unconscious role in our social lives, but for ants pheromones say everything. If you removed an ant’s ability to smell, then it would not be able to sense pheromones within a colony. So what would happen then? Well that has been the topic of study for a group of researchers who placed a few non-smelling ants into a colony with other ants.

Ants are able to communicate via pheromone as a result of possessing pheromone receptors. These receptors are known as odorant receptors, and they are located on the antennae of ants. Ants also need another protein alongside their odorant receptor-proteins in order to communicate. This second protein is referred to as an Orco protein. This pair of proteins must be possessed by ants if they are to resort to pheromone related socialization. In the above mentioned study, researchers removed the Orco gene from certain ants and then observed their behavior amongst other ants that still had their pheromone sensing organs.

The ants that could not send pheromone signals wandered away from the nests where they belonged, they were unable to forage for food, they did not interact in any way with other ants, and females no longer groomed male ants, which is a pre-mating behavior. Without possessing an Orco protein, the ants were unable to process information relating to sociality.

How do you think a human would behave if he/she lost the ability to sense pheromones?

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