Disease Dynamics in Ants. A Critical Review of the Ecological Relevance of Using Generalist Fungi to Study Infections in Insect Societies.

R. G. Loreto, D. P. Hughes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is assumed that social life can lead to the rapid spread of infectious diseases and outbreaks. In ants, disease outbreaks are rare and the expression of collective behaviors is invoked to explain the absence of epidemics in natural populations. Here, we address the ecological approach employed by many studies that have notably focused (89% of the studies) on two genera of generalist fungal parasites (Beauveria and Metarhizium). We ask whether these are the most representative models to study the evolutionary ecology of ant-fungal parasite interactions. To assess this, we critically examine the literature on ants and their interactions with fungal parasites from the past 114 years (1900-2014). We discuss how current evolutionary ecology approaches emerged from studies focused on the biological control of pest ants. We also analyzed the ecological relevance of the laboratory protocols used in evolutionary ecology studies employing generalist parasites, as well as the rare natural occurrence of these parasites. on ants. After a detailed consideration of all the publications, we suggest that using generalist pathogens such as Beauveria and Metarhizium is not an optimal approach if the goal is to study the evolutionary ecology of disease in ants. We conclude by advocating for approaches that incorporate greater realism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGenetics and Molecular Biology of Entomopathogenic Fungi, 2016
EditorsRaymond J. St. Leger, Brian Lovett
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Pages287-306
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780128046944
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Genetics
Volume94
ISSN (Print)0065-2660

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics

Cite this

Loreto, R. G., & Hughes, D. P. (2016). Disease Dynamics in Ants. A Critical Review of the Ecological Relevance of Using Generalist Fungi to Study Infections in Insect Societies. In R. J. St. Leger, & B. Lovett (Eds.), Genetics and Molecular Biology of Entomopathogenic Fungi, 2016 (pp. 287-306). (Advances in Genetics; Vol. 94). Academic Press Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.adgen.2015.12.005