Ant colonies rife with corruption

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London, Mar 13 (UNI) It is not just human society which is rife with corruption and nepotism, ant colonies are also prone to these menaces, scientists discovered.

New research has shattered the myth that ants work equally for the benefit of the whole colony, and that every larvae is born with an equal chance of becoming a queen, rather than a worker.

Prof William Hughes of the University of Leeds and Prof Jacobus Boomsma of the University of Copenhagen, studied five colonies of leaf-cutting ants.

Dr Hughes said, ''When studying social insects like ants and bees, it is often the co-operative aspect of their society that first stands out.'' ''However, when you look more deeply, you can see there is conflict and cheating, and obviously human society is also a prime example of this,'' he said.

''It was thought that ants were an exception, but our genetic analysis has shown that their society is also rife with corruption-- and royal corruption at that,'' he added.

DNA fingerprinting techniques have revealed that a 'royal line' of males pass on a genetic advantage to their offspring that means they are more likely to become a queen, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The males passing on the ''royal gene'' to their offspring apparently limit their procreation to better escape detection by the rest of the colony, otherwise they could face a workers' revolution, the research found.


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