Biologists say genetically modified ants shed light on complex insect societies. Ant colonies are a marvel of cooperation, where each member regularly performs its tasks and cooperates with sister ants in a colony named as a superorganism. A study reveals that genetically modified ants provide a clue to how insects behave in their social lives.
A breakthrough in experimental biology
#Bert Holldobler at Arizona State University says that it is an advancement in experimental biology, and he will soon study the characteristics of modified ant to know more about their colonies.
Before this, no one succeeded in modifying ants for study. It is the first time when biologists modify ants in a large number. Previously, Charles Darwin provided fascinating concepts about the social behavior of insects. Bert claims that these tiny creatures are different from people as they live in groups and work together. In contrast, humans can work alone and could survive without a family. Studies of honey bees provide a hint of how genes play a role in an insect's life. For now, researchers have no good way to disrupt genes of interest, but Holldobler says that he will complete his research before publishing the findings in an international journal. If he succeeds, it will be a breakthrough in experimental biology.
Unusual behavior of ants and other insects
Bert Holldobler believes that insects show strange behavior. It is very tough to modify bees and ants. Scientists have altered the genes of an individual, but the eggs of ants are very sensitive and cannot survive without workers. Laurent Keller at the University of Lausanne believes that the life cycle of insects is complicated, making it impossible to obtain a large number of modified ants within a few days.
However, Bert and his team will soon find out a way to genetically modify ants and bees in a large number. For now, he changes a species called clonal raider ants using both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. He says that they can quickly breed and provide clear evidence of the social behavior of insects. But he aims to modify almost all species of insects and requires more time to accomplish his project.