Article: article from journal or magazin.
Not one odour but two: A new model for nestmate recognition.
Journal of Theoretical Biology
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tPublication Status: ppublish
Recognition systems play a key role in a range of biological processes, including mate choice, immune defence and altruistic behaviour. Social insects provide an excellent model for studying recognition systems because workers need to discriminate between nestmates and non-nestmates, enabling them to direct altruistic behaviour towards closer kin and to repel potential invaders. However, the level of aggression directed towards conspecific intruders can vary enormously, even among workers within the same colony. This is usually attributed to differences in the aggression thresholds of individuals or to workers having different roles within the colony. Recent evidence from the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina suggests that this does not tell the whole story. Here I propose a new model for nestmate recognition based on a vector template derived from both the individual's innate odour and the shared colony odour. This model accounts for the recent findings concerning weaver ants, and also provides an alternative explanation for why the level of aggression expressed by a colony decreases as the diversity within the colony increases, even when odour is well-mixed. The model makes additional predictions that are easily tested, and represents a significant advance in our conceptualisation of recognition systems.
Aggression/physiology, Algorithms, Animal Communication, Animals, Ants/physiology, Computer Simulation, Genetic Variation/physiology, Models, Biological, Odors/analysis
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