Timothée Brütsch

Organisms living in societies benefit from a lot of advantages, for example by cooperating when foraging, rearing offspring or defending against predators. However, social life can also pose challenges, like an increased exposure to pathogens. Social insects, because they live in stable nests, crowded in groups of often closely related individuals, are particularly vulnerable to the spread of diseases. Confronted by such threats, social insects can not only rely on their own immune system, but also on the evolution of a “social immune system”, or “social immunity”. The aim of my Phd project is to investigate some of the collective defenses of ants. Specifically, I'm studying the sharing of chemical defenses, whether they are exogenous, like the use of resin in wood ants, or endogenous, like the antibiotic substances produced by the metapleural glands, structures unique to ants.

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