Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecologists uncover biological benefits of sleeping around

01.09.2004


Females have traditionally been viewed as the choosy, monogamous sex compared to males, but recent genetic studies have revealed that females of many, if not most, animal species also mate multiply with different partners. However, understanding why females should do this has remained something of enigma.



Speaking at the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting, Dr William Hughes of the University of Sydney and Professor Jacobus Boomsma of the University of Copenhagen will announce the results of their experiments with Panamanian ants, which show that mating with many different males (polyandry) produces colonies that are more resistant to disease. According to Hughes: “This study shows that genetically diverse groups of social insects are more resistant to disease than genetically homogenous groups.”

Sex is a costly business for most animals, using precious energy and exposing the female to the risks of being predated or of catching a disease, notably those that are sexually transmitted. For many species ecologists don’t yet understand why females should engage in this costly behaviour because it has been hard to identify how the female benefits.


Using colonies of Panamanian leaf-cutting ants, which are highly polyandrous, Hughes and Boomsma used genetic markers to identify the fathers of particular ants. They then created small groups of genetically diverse ants (simulating colonies that result from queens that mate with multiple males) and of genetically homogenous ants (simulating colonies resulting from queens that mate with single males). They then studied which groups survived better after being infected with a virulent fungal parasite.

“The results of our study suggest that social insect queens may benefit from mating with multiple males by making their colonies more genetically diverse and therefore more resistant to disease. This indicates females can get genetic benefits simply by mating with many males, as compared to going through the laborious process of choosing males. The results suggest one reason why some of the largest and most complex insect societies appear to suffer so little from disease,” Hughes says.

Dr Hughes will present their full findings at 09:00 on Wednesday 8 September 2004.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>