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Data from: No evidence for social immunity in co-founding queen associations


Brütsch, Timothée; Avril, Amaury; Chapuisat, Michel (2018), Data from: No evidence for social immunity in co-founding queen associations, Dryad, Dataset,


Ant queens often associate to found new colonies, yet the benefits of this behaviour remain unclear. A major hypothesis is that queens founding in groups are protected by social immunity and can better resist disease than solitary queens, due to mutual grooming, sharing of antimicrobials, or higher genetic diversity among their workers. We tested this hypothesis by manipulating the number of queens in incipient colonies of Lasius niger and measuring their resistance to the fungal entomopathogen Metarhizium brunneum. We found no evidence for social immunity in associations of founding queens. First, co-founding queens engaged in self-grooming, but performed very little allo-grooming or trophallaxis. Second, co-founding queens did not exhibit higher pathogen resistance than solitary queens, and their respective workers did not differ in disease resistance. Finally, queens founding in groups increased their investment in a component of individual immunity, as expected if they do not benefit from social immunity but respond to a higher risk of disease. Overall, our results provide no evidence that joint colony founding by L. niger queens increases their ability to resist fungal pathogens.

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