The effects of taurine have been characterized primarily in mammals, and insects are not generally used to study taurine. In this study, ants were used to examine the effect of taurine on eusociality. Ants are the principal models for studying eusociality and superorganisms. Japanese carpenter ants (Camponotus japonicus) were fed a taurine-supplemented diet and tested using ant eusocial indexes. Ant farm structures were constructed using transparent PET bottles containing autoclaved soil. Three categories of vital index were used to study the effect of taurine on group activity: creation of formicaries (residence chambers), cooperative defense efforts, and population density (or group size and composition). Control, low-, and high-taurine diets were prepared using three different levels of taurine in sucrose powder: 0, 5, and 20% (g/g), respectively. The cooperative defense efforts against exogenous queen ants were recorded daily. The high-taurine group took less time to complete their defense formation than the other groups. At least 16% more formicaries (chambers) were observed in the taurine-fed groups than in the control. There were evident differences between control and taurine-fed groups in the total numbers of ants and eggs. The taurine-fed group sustained higher total numbers of ants, excluding the queen. Taurine-fed groups showed a significant increase both in the number of workers and eggs. When fed with taurine, ants responded positively on the eusocial vitality indexes. These results show that taurine exerts a positive effect on the eusociality of ants at the level of the superorganism.
Ants Eusociality Eusocial vital index Superorganism Taurine
Cooperative Defense Index
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This work was supported by the 2018 University of Seoul Faculty Grant to DH Lee. The authors appreciate for the financial support.
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