A clever molecular trick that extends the lives of these ant queens has been discovered.

A clever molecular trick that extends the lives of these ant queens has been discovered.

Ant queens are the reproductive females of ant colonies and can live for many years. A new study has found that some

Ant queens are famously long-lived, in spite of the fact that they shouldn't be. Generally, animals that invest a lot of energy in reproduction sacrifice some of their lifespan. However, ant queens produce millions of eggs and live an extraordinarily long time compared to worker

Now, researchers have shown how one ant species pulls off this anti-aging feat. When queens and wannabe queens of the species Harpegnathos saltator gear up to reproduce, a part of what’s called the insulin signaling pathway gets blocked, slowing aging, the researchers report in the Sept. 2 Science.

There’s been a need to understand why reproductives, or queens, in social insects can live for so amazingly long. Some ant species have queens that survive 30 times as long as their workers. Other social insects such as bees and termites also have long-lived queens. Marc Tatar, a biologist at Brown University in Providence

When a queen ant dies, some of the female workers in the colony will start to compete with each other for the chance to replace her. These workers will develop ovaries and start to lay eggs, and will transition into a queen-like form known as a gamergate. If a worker is successful in becoming a gamergate, her life span will be five times as long as it was before. However, if she is

Researchers have found that the gamergates of the ant species Harpegnathos saltator exploit a split in the insulin signalling pathway in order to extend their life spans. This split means that one branch of the pathway is dedicated to reproduction, while the other is implicated in the aging process. The researchers believe that by understanding how the gamergates

A new study has found that high levels of insulin could be linked to a shorter lifespan. Researchers from the University of Florida looked at the effects of insulin on fruit flies and found that those with higher levels of the

Examining patterns of gene activity, Yan and colleagues found that gamergates have more active insulin genes than regular worker ants and, as a result, have increased metabolic activity and ovary development. But the secret sauce protecting the ants from the insulin’s aging effects appears to be a molecule called Imp-L2, which blocks the branch of the insulin pathway linked to aging, experiments

The researchers found that when Imp-L2 was removed from the developing fruit fly, the cells in the animal's eye became disorganized. However, when the researchers looked at other parts of the fruit

The study found that the lifespan of the social insect queens was extended by a mutation that affected the production of a key protein involved in regulating metabolism. The research team believes that this finding could have

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