Fieldwork at Borşa Cătun, Cluj County
1 October 2016
How does the ectoparasitic fungus Rickia spread from colonies to colonies? This is our next question. Let’s go and find some infected ants!
Myrmica scabrinodis nests are sometimes hard to find, especially, if they don’t have a solaria as it happened in October.
Luckily we always split the job among team members…
Trip to Regensburg, Germany
9-17 September 2016
Thanks to the hospitality of the researchers from the University of Regensburg we had a very nice time in Germany.
Our aim was to collect Myrmica scabrinodis colonies (both infected and uninfected with Rickia wasmannii) and carry out aggressivity assays within and among the Romanian, Polish and German populations, both Rickia wasmannii infected and uninfected ants. We also analyzed the chemical profiles of these ants. In addition, we carried out some bioassays in order to assess the status of the ovaries in workers and queens from mono- and polygynous colonies. As for the molecules… we went on with analyzing microsat data from our study populations.
In the field after collecting the workers for the tests in Germany near Augsburg. (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Enikő in the lab during the aggressivity tests. (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Bálint and the bioassays. (Keresztes K.K.)
Reproductive strategy of Myrmica ants – season 2
Our bachelor students, Arabela and Evelyn are carrying out bioassays aimed to assess the reproductive status of queens from mono- and polygynous, infected and uninfected colonies. There are some differences among queens that’s for sure. In addition, they are also dissecting workers, and, to our not too big surprise, but still… there are some nicely developed ovaries in workers as well… That’s it for worker sterility…
Bella dissects the abdomen of a Myrmica worker (Photo: Angi E.)
Uninfected Myrmica worker and infected Myrmica queen under the lense (Photo: Angi E.)
Euro International Union for the Study of Social Insects Section Meeting (Euro IUSSI)
8-11 August 2016, Helsinki, Finland
Our team participated at Euro IUSSI Section Meeting (Meeting of the European Sections) in Helsinki with two talks, one of them in the section Ageing and fecundity in social insect, held by Bálint Markó:
Bálint Markó, Enikő Csata, Kriszta-Kincső Keresztes, Márta Osváth-Ferencz, Alexandra Schrempf, Jürgen Heinze: Reproductive and behavioural correlates of dominance hierarchies in queens in the facultative polygynous ant Myrmica scabrinodis.
(see Abstract book)
The other talk was held by Enikő Csata in the section Recognition in social insects:
Enikő Csata, Magdalena Witek, Luca Pietro Casacci, Bálint Markó: Could fungal infection shape discrimination abilities in ants? (see Abstract book)
During the coffee break we had time to discuss about future projects or even about how nice Helsinki is.
Professor Johan Billen from the University of Leuven and Enikő Csata from the Babeș-Bolyai University. (Photo: Erős K.)
After the conference, during our trip to Lapland, luckily, we found infected Formica sp. with the fungus Pandora myrmecophaga. (Photo: Erős K.)
And sometimes we focused not just on infected ants, but also to figure out how we can collect more efficiently the blueberries…
Fieldwork at Senetea, Harghita County
The end of July
We collected some Formica exsecta ants infected with Pandora myrmecophaga fungus for histological analyses. Professor Johan Billen from the University of Leuven, Belgium, joined us on this fieldwork, and offered us valuable know-hows on histological sections. He also gave us three wonderful presentations on ants.
Having our breakfast – gaining energy before going out to the field (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Presenting the wonderful Transylvanian landscape to professor Billen (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Here we have a Formica exsecta nest (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Searching for ant nests in the field (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Success! We found a ‘zombie’ ant. This is how an infected F. exsecta worker looks like. Poor guy…, we mean girl. (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Looking for crabs in the local stream. Not ants but still invertebrates. Close enough. (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
2nd Lepideptorological Meeting in Hungary
7-10 July 2016
Greetings from Szögliget, Hungary. Márti spent four days in the Aggtelek National Park and presented her PhD topic’s results on Transylvanian Maculinea arion populations.
Monitoring activities in the National Park (Photo: Osváth-Ferencz M.)
Fieldwork at Borşa-Cătun, Cluj County
We collected infected and uninfected Myrmica scabrinodis colonies for our behavioural and genetic analyses.
The team after a long and weary day on the field (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
Smiley faces on, after the job is done! (Photo: Keresztes K.K.)
17th Biology Days
8-9 April 2016
Our team was highly productive at the Biology Days in Cluj-Napoca. We participated with the following interesting talks:
Angi, Evelyn, Balaji, Arabela, Keresztes, Kriszta Kincső, Csata, Enikő, Markó, Bálint: All equal? The parameters of dominance hierarchies among queens in the facultative polygynous ant Myrmica scabrinodis
Keresztes, Kriszta Kincső, Lunka, Tekla Amália, Markó, Bálint: Nestmate recognition and supercoloniality in the velvety tree ant Liometopum microcephalum
Osváth-Ferencz, Márta, Onodi, Henrietta, Molnár, Gyöngyvér, Rákosy, László, Nowicki, Piotr, Kőrösi, Ádám: Butterfly census in Transylvania: what’s the news about the large blue butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)?
Photo: Babeș-Bolyai University, Hungarian Department of Biology and Ecology
31 March-02 April 2016
Our team member, Márti spent a great three days in The Netherlands. She talked about a Romanian socially parasitic Maculinea arion population at the conference Future4Butterflies in Europe.
Head size of Myrmica queens
Does a queen’s body size (for which head size is an appropriate proxy) predict its reproductive potential and place in the dominance hierarchy in case of polygyny? We measured 63 Myrmica queen’s head to find the answer.
Myrmica queen’s head (photo: Osváth-Ferencz M.)
Reproductive status of Myrmica ants
We are very interested to find out all differences between infected and uninfected Myrmica queens and workers. We measured the oocytes of 55 queens and 135 workers in the spring of 2016. We are still going on with this.
Ovaries of a Myrmica worker with a single well-developed oocyte (photo: Markó B.)
Ovaries of an infected Myrmica queen with oocytes (photo: Markó B.)
Ovaries of an uninfected Myrmica queen with well-developed oocytes (photo: Markó B.)
We are glad to invite you to the public defense of the PhD-thesis on the interactions between the parasitic fungus Rickia wasmannii and its ant host Myrmica scabrinodis