Phil 10.15.17

orco Mutagenesis Causes Loss of Antennal Lobe Glomeruli and Impaired Social Behavior in Ants

  • An example of how group behavior patterns reveal a mediated communication problem – Life inside ant colonies is orchestrated with diverse pheromones, but it is not clear how ants perceive these social signals. It has been proposed that pheromone perception in ants evolved via expansions in the numbers of odorant receptors (ORs) and antennal lobe glomeruli. Here, we generate the first mutant lines in the clonal raider ant, Ooceraea biroi, by disrupting orco, a gene required for the function of all ORs. We find that orco mutants exhibit severe deficiencies in social behavior and fitness, suggesting they are unable to perceive pheromones. Surprisingly, unlike in Drosophila melanogaster, orco mutant ants also lack most of the ∼500 antennal lobe glomeruli found in wild-type ants. These results illustrate that ORs are essential for ant social organization and raise the possibility that, similar to mammals, receptor function is required for the development and/or maintenance of the highly complex olfactory processing areas in the ant brain
  • orco Mutagenesis
  • Some random thoughts while riding.
    • The difference between a ‘large group’ and a ‘small group’ is the threshold at which multiple incremental interactions can happen between all members.
      • A group that has a fully connected trust network is fundamentally different from a group that doesn’t. A ‘large group’ requires transitive trust.
        • From HBR: It’s not just biases inside our heads that skew our judgment. We often rely on trusted third parties to verify the character or reliability of other people. These third parties, in effect, help us “roll over” our positive expectations from one known and trusted party to another who is less known and trusted. In such situations, trust becomes, quite literally, transitive. Unfortunately, as the Bernie Madoff case illustrates, transitive trust can lull people into a false sense of security. The evidence suggests that Madoff was a master at cultivating and exploiting social connections. One of his hunting grounds was the Orthodox Jewish community, a tight-knit social group.
      • This can be affected by communications technology in many ways, which the above study points to.
      • Again, the relationship between awareness and trust becomes an issue.

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