Precise 'lock and key' process regulates aggression, acceptance


Ant societies are based on on a friend or foe model, where protecting the queen and the colony is vital. Vanderbilt is studying aggression in ants to better understand this structure and behavior. Credit: Vanderbilt University / Joe Howell

For most social animals, even humans, the ability to distinguish friend versus foe can be a challenge that often can lead to knee-jerk aggression. But when it comes to ants getting aggressive, there’s a more sophisticated method to their madness.

In a new study, published this month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, scientists in the Department of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt report definitive evidence of a specific mechanism within ants that is responsible for unlocking aggressive behaviors toward other ants. The research—the first to pinpoint this mechanism and its precise role in ant biology—reports a social…



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