Scientists create huge-headed 'supersoldier' ants
1- There are 1,100 different species of Pheidole ants worldwide having two social groups, or castes: workers and solders.
2- Some also produce "supersoldiers."
3- These large ants block their nest entrance with their extra-large heads and fight with invading ants during army ant raids.
3- Although there are 1,100 different species of Pheidole ants worldwide, only 8 of them produce supersoldiers.
4- The international team of scientists, led by Dr Ehab Abouheif of the Department of Biology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, looked at the genomes of two ant species that produce supersoldiers.
5- They identified the genetics behind the supersoldier caste and were able to activate the genes by treating ant larvae with methoprene, a growth hormone.
6- As expected, the ant larvae became supersoldiers.
7- The treated larvae grew to become large headed and jawed ants resembling supersoldiers. The same effect was produced in two other Pheilode species, which are not known to produce supersoldiers