The impact of infectious diseases are exacerbated in social organisms, which live in dense groups where pathogens can rapidly transmit between hosts. Theory predicts that disease dynamics will depend in large part on a group's composition and social interaction network, but empirical data are scarce.
Our goal is to experimentally investigate the link between the composition of a social group, the structure of its interaction network, and its susceptibility to disease. To do this, we use a novel system, the clonal raider ant Ooceraea biroi, whose unusual biology allows us to precisely control and replicate colony composition. We use automated behavioral tracking to study how experimental colonies of different composition regulate behavior at the individual and group levels, and how this in turn might affect disease resistance.
The lab was awarded a 5-year Eccellenza grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation to study the link between social group composition and disease dynamics in the clonal raider ant
A new project on experimental epidemiology in clonal ants was awarded an ERC Starting grant. PhD and postdoc positions will be advertised here soon!