July 28, 2015 - Ants are most effective when they work in organized groups, according to a study recently published in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have shown that when longhorn crazy ants follow a strategy of scout-leader and carriers, they can transport food and other objects that far outweigh what a single ant could move.
Drivers in Miami, Florida, spend almost 50 hours a year stuck in traffic. New York City drivers spend close to 60 hours. Washington, DC, drivers honk their horns for a whopping 65 hours per year. The leafcutter ant? Zero hours. Ants avoid traffic jams all while carrying food for their colonies, navigating miles of terrain, and coordinating with tens of thousands of other ants.
Researchers have changed the size of a handful of Florida ants by chemically modifying their DNA, rather than by changing its encoded information. The work is the latest advance from a field known as epigenetics and may help explain how the insects—despite their high degree of genetic similarity—grow into the different varieties of workers needed in a colony.
Using mathematical modeling and field data, researchers at the mathematics department at Uppsala University have found the basic rules that allow ants to build efficient and low cost transport networks without discarding robustness.
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