A Northeastern University biology professor and her team of student researchers have discovered that the social feeding habits of carpenter ants reduce disease transmission and widespread infection within the colony, in much the same way that a mother’s milk helps her child boost his immune system against foreign organisms.
The results of the study were published in a June issue of Biology Letters, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Although the research focused on social insects, the team’s findings could eventually be applied to solving complex problems in fields of study as diverse as human disease and salmon farming, says coauthor Rebeca Rosengaus, an associate professor of biology. Brian Lejeune, a third-year chemical engineering major and biology minor, and Northeastern alumnus Casey Hamilton, now a graduate student in biology at Towson University, collaborated on the study.
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