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Universal Dependencies - English - GUM

Corpus Parttrain
AnnotationPeng, Siyao;Zeldes, Amir

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s-1 Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about 'self-medicating' ants
s-2 Tuesday, September 1, 2015
s-3 Formica fusca, from file.
s-4 Image: Mathias Krumbholz.
s-5 Nick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies 'the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience'.
s-6 In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.
s-7 'I have no doubt that as time goes on, there will be more and more cases documented'
s-8 The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies.
s-9 This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew.
s-10 It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.
s-11 Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus.
s-12 Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it.
s-13 Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.
s-14 In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants.
s-15 The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.
s-16 Bos obtained his doctorate from the University of Copenhagen.
s-17 He began postdoctoral research at Helsinki in 2012.
s-18 He also runs the AntyScience blog.
s-19 The blog aims to help address 'a gap between scientists and 'the general public'.'
s-20 The name is a pun referencing ants, its primary topic, science, and 'non-scientific' jargon-free communication.
s-21 He now discusses his work with Wikinews.
s-22 Beauveria bassiana on a cicada in Bolivia.
s-23 Image: Danny Newman.
s-24 What first attracted you to researching ants?
s-25 Me and a studymate were keeping a lot of animals during our studies, from beetles, to butterflies and mantids, to ants.
s-26 We had the ants in an observation nest, and I could just look at them for hours, watching them go about.
s-27 This was in my third year of Biology study I think.
s-28 After a while I needed to start thinking about an internship for my M.Sc. studies, and decided to write a couple of professors.
s-29 I ended up going to the Centre for Social Evolution at the University of Copenhagen where I did a project on learning in Ants under supervision of Prof. Patrizia d'Ettorre.
s-30 I liked it so much there I ended up doing a PhD and I've been working on social insects ever since.
s-31 What methods and equipment were used for this investigation?
s-32 This is a fun one.
s-33 I try to work on a very low budget, and like to build most of the experimental setups myself (we actually have equipment in the lab nicknamed the 'Nickinator', 'i-Nick' and the 'Nicktendo64').
s-34 There's not that much money in fundamental science at the moment, so I try to cut the costs wherever possible.
s-35 We collected wild colonies of Formica fusca by searching through old tree-trunks in old logging sites in southern Finland.
s-36 We then housed the ants in nests I made using Y-tong [aerated concrete].
s-37 It's very soft stone that you can easily carve.
s-38 We carved out little squares for the ants to live in (covered with old CD covers to prevent them escaping!).
s-39 We then drilled a tunnel to a pot (the foraging arena), where the ants got the choice between the food with medicine and the food without.
s-40 We infected the ants by preparing a solution of the fungus Beauveria bassiana.
s-41 Afterwards, each ant was dipped in the solution for a couple of seconds, dried on a cloth and put in the nest.
s-42 After exposing the ants to the fungus, we took pictures of each foraging arena three times per day, and counted how many ants were present on each food-source.
s-43 Example of aerated concrete, which provided a home for the subjects.
s-44 Image: Marco Bernardini.
s-45 This gave us the data that ants choose more medicine after they have been infected.
s-46 The result that healthy ants die sooner when ingesting ROS [Reactive Oxygen Species, the group of chemicals that includes hydrogen peroxide] but infected ants die less was obtained in another way (as you have to 'force feed' the ROS, as healthy ants, when given the choice, ignore that food-source.)
s-47 For this we basically put colonies on a diet of either food with medicine or without for a while.
s-48 And afterwards either infected them or not.
s-49 Then for about two weeks we count every day how many ants died.
s-50 This gives us the data to do a so-called survival analysis.
s-51 We measured the ROS-concentration in the bodies of ants after they ingested the food with the medicine using a spectrophotometer.
s-52 By adding certain chemicals, the ROS can be measured using the emission of light of a certain wave-length.
s-53 The detrimental effect of ROS on spores was easy to measure.
s-54 We mixed different concentrations of ROS with the spores, plated them out on petridishes with an agar-solution where fungus can grow on.
s-55 A day after, we counted how many spores were still alive.
s-56 How reliable do you consider your results to be?
s-57 The results we got are very reliable.
s-58 We had a lot of colonies containing a lot of ants, and wherever possible we conducted the experiment blind.
s-59 This means the experimenter doesn't know which ants belong to which treatment, so it's impossible to influence the results with 'observer bias'.
s-60 However, of course this is proof in just one species.
s-61 It is hard to extrapolate to other ants, as different species lead very different lives.

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