Super-organism: The whole hive

It turned out that the colonies of social insects are completely subordinate to biological patterns derived for individual organisms. This allows us to interpret them as a "super-organism", including from the point of view of physiology and the characteristics of the life cycle. The social interactions of individual individuals within the colony are very reminiscent of the interaction of cells within a single organism. This "supra-being" consists of a myriad of individual creatures: this is the conclusion made by scientists working under the leadership of James Gillooly.

They used mathematical models designed to describe and predict life expectancy, growth and reproduction of individual organisms, and applied them to an entire colony. This experiment was repeated for 168 different types of social insects, including varieties of ants, termites, bees and wasps. The authors found that all of the mentioned parameters of the existence of a large colony are completely subordinate to the laws characteristic of an individual organism.

The study should help to understand how natural selection led to the formation of such complex social systems as those of social insects, in which the mass of meek and sterile workers provides ideal conditions for the reproduction of a single uterus.

According to James Giluli, during the evolution of life, “two major breakthroughs occurred - the unification of individual cells into a single organism, and the unification of individual organisms into a community”. Today we know a lot about how the multicellular form of existence changes the life of cells. And it turns out that much of this applies to the social form of "creatures" consisting of multicellular organisms.

This is especially important in light of the fact that social insects make up a large proportion of living things on our planet - for example, it has recently been shown that some ant colonies extend to entire continents ("Secrets of the Underground"). And the development of a modern society of people gives an additional urgency to the study, which, in its forms, seems to be getting closer to the “ideal state” invented by ants millions of years before our era.

According to a press release from the University of Florida

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