Abstracts (first author)
Why do inbred ants live longer?
Inbreeding has profound consequences on a genomic, individual, population and even species level. However, the effects of inbreeding on natural populations, especially in insects, remain largely unstudied. Ants are an ideal model system to study the consequences of inbreeding, as they are ecologically important and form socially complex groups. Social groups provide another level possibly affected by inbreeding, as the large amount of interactions between numerous individuals could give rise to socially mediated inbreeding depression. Inbreeding has been shown to have negative consequences both at the individual and colony level in a natural population of the narrow-headed ant (Formica exsecta). Here, we compare the resistance of inbred and outbred worker ants against starvation. Our results indicate that inbreeding has no effect on longevity under starvation, however, naïve (fed) inbred ants outlive the outbred ones. What makes inbred ants live longer? We investigated these questions using both behavioural assays and gene expression studies.