Sunday, June 4, 2023

Ant brain complexity revealed at a cellular level for the first time using single-cell technology – Nation World News

summary: Using single-cell technology, the researchers discovered how the social division of labor in an ant colony reflects the functional specialization of the ant brain at a cellular level.

Source: BGI Group

International researchers, led by China’s BGI-Research, used a single cell technique to study the brains of ants, revealing for the first time how the social division of labor within ant colonies drives the functional specialization of their brains at cellular levels. it shows.

Scientists from BGI Group’s BGI-Research, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, ‘A Single-Cell Transcriptomic Atlas Tracking the Neural Basis of Labor in an Ant Superorganism’. The University of Copenhagen, and others, applied the BGI’s DNBeLab single-cell library platform to obtain more than 200,000 single-nuclei transcriptomes from the brains of the pharaoh ant and a single-cell library covering all adult phenotypes of this ant species. Produced the transcript map: workers, males, guineas (virgin queens), and queens.

Ants are one of the most successful creatures on Earth, having existed for more than 140 million years. The biomass of ants (determined by multiplying the estimated population by the average weight of its members) is estimated to be similar to the biomass of humans. The success of ants is usually attributed to their remarkable social behavior with a clear reproductive division of labor.

Ant colonies have been regarded as superorganisms for more than a century. Now taking advantage of single cell technology, scientists are able to systematically determine cellular complexity in the brain of an ant and assess brain cell structure differences between individuals in the same colony.

“Our discoveries suggest that the functional specialization of their brains appears to be a mechanism underlying the social function division among individual ants,” said first author of the paper and researcher at BGI-Research, Dr. Qi Li says. “We humans learn and train ourselves to do different things, whereas ants are born with a specific role in their colony.”

The research team found that the brains of worker and male ants are highly specialized and highly complementary. Neurons responsible for learning and processing of memory and olfactory information are particularly abundant in workers, whereas optic lobe cells responsible for processing visual information are much less abundant. This trend reverses in male ant brains where there is an abundance of optic lobe cells, but fewer neurons for olfactory processing, learning and memory.

“These findings well support our observations in the laboratory that pharaoh ant workers are responsible for all colony maintenance tasks that require multi-purpose brains, whereas males do not participate in any colony maintenance tasks, as their only The task is to find the virgins and conceive them. Queen.” Dr. Weiwei Liu, a researcher at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and co-corresponding author of the paper, said.

The analysis also identified significant changes in the brains of the guineas as they turned into queens after mating. For example, the abundance of optic lobe cells decreased as queens adapted to the darkness of the nest, whereas dopaminergic neurons and ensheathing glia increased, which may account for the fertility and longevity of queens.

“This is the first single-cell atlas that covers all social roles in an ant colony. Its achievement benefits from the development of a massively parallel single-cell profiling technology with high sensitivity and accuracy at low cost.” BGI -Said Dr. Chuanyu Liu, co-corresponding author and researcher in the research.

by comparing the brain cells of the pharaoh ant and Drosophila In the fruit fly, the researchers also found several conserved cell types in insect brains. For example, the population of optic lobe cells Drosophila Responsible for sensing object movement during courtship is also present in ants and is especially abundant in males.

It shows an ant on a leaf
Ants are one of the most successful creatures on earth, having existed for more than 140 million years. Image is in public domain

The molecular signature and spatial location of these cells are very similar in two distantly related insects, suggesting that these cells play a conserved role in regulating male mating behavior in insects, regardless of sociality.

“This study helps us understand the complexity of ant brains and how complementary specialization in brains enables ants to function as a superorganism within a colony,” Prof. Guoji Zhang, co-corresponding author of the Evolutionary and Organismal Biology Research Center, School of. Medicine, Zhejiang University.

“The brains of different races and sexes are specialized in different directions and complement each other, allowing the entire ant colony to fulfill a full range of functions, including breeding, rearing, foraging and defence.

“This extraterrestrial life strategy has enabled ants to thrive over 140 million years of competition and eventually become a highly dominant animal group on Earth.”

Ethical approval was obtained for this research.

About this neuroscience research news

Author: Richard Lee
Source: BGI Group
contact: Richard Lee – BGI Group
image: Image is in public domain

Basic Research: open access.
“A single-cell transcriptomic atlas tracking the neural basis of the division of labor in an ant superorganism” by Qi Li et al. Nature Ecology and Evolution

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A single-cell transcriptomic atlas tracking the neural basis of division of labor in the ant superorganism

Ant colonies with permanent division of labor between species and highly specialized roles of sexes have been regarded as superorganisms, but the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate species/gender-specific behavioral specialization remain unclear.

Here we characterized the brain cell repertoires of queens, guineas (virgin queens), workers and males Pharaoh’s Monomorium By obtaining 206,367 single-nuclei transcripts.

Unlike the DrosophilaMushroom body canyon cells are abundant in ants and exhibit a high diversity, with most subtypes enriched in worker brains, an evolutionarily derived genera.

Male brains are typical of worker brains, but with opposite trends in cell structure with higher abundances of all optic lobe neuronal subtypes, while gene and queen brain structure remains generalized, reminiscent of solitary progenitors.

Variation in role from virgin guineas to conception queens induces abundance changes in approximately 35% of cell types, indicating active neurogenesis and/or programmed cell death during this transition.

We also identified conception-induced cell changes, possibly associated with longevity and fertility of the reproductive species, including increased glia and a population of dopamine-regulated genes. th31Expressing neurons.

We conclude that permanent caste discrimination and extreme sex-discrimination caused major changes in the neural circuits of ants.

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