Scientists have found that ants respond to social isolation in the same way that humans and other social mammals do. The results of the study are published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
A study by an Israeli-German research team found changes in the social and hygienic behavior of ants that were isolated from their group. Scientists were surprised by the fact that the genes for immunity and stress in the brain of ants “in isolation” were suppressed. In other words, the genes were less active. “This makes the immune system less efficient. The same phenomenon is observed in the social isolation of people – especially now, during the COVID-19 crisis, ”explains Professor Suzanne Feuzik, who led the study at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz (JGU).
For humans and other social mammals, isolation from their group is perceived as stressful, having a negative impact on their overall well-being and physical health. “Isolated people become lonely, depressed and anxious, they develop addictions more easily, they suffer from a weakened immune system and a general deterioration in health,” explains Professor Inon Scharf, lead author of the study.
The effects of isolation have been extensively studied on social mammals such as humans and mice. However, scientists have much less information on how social insects respond in comparable situations. Ants, for example, live their entire lives as members of one colony and depend on their comrades in it. Isolation had a detrimental effect on them.
Recall that at an early stage, the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to SARS: fever, sore throat, cough, headache, weakness. Therefore, it is important to stay at home and, if possible, eliminate or minimize contact with family members before receiving coronavirus test results. Infected patients (including children) are required to adhere to a 14-day self-isolation regimen, even if they do not have manifestations of the disease.