Nature Podcast


Mysterious fluid from ant pupae helps feed colony

00:45 Inert ant pupae produce a previously unobserved fluid

Ant larvae metamorphose into adults by pupating. It was assumed that these inert pupae don’t play a role in the wider ant colony, but a team of researchers have found that they actually secrete a fluid that is consumed by both adult ants and larvae. This fluid is rich in proteins and metabolites, and appears to be an important source of larval nutrition. These secretions have now been seen in the pupae of multiple ant species, suggesting it is an evolutionary ancient behaviour.

Research Article: Snir et al.

News and Views: A fluid role in ant society as adults give larvae ‘milk’ from pupae

07:15 Research Highlights

Ancient chefs made bitter plants taste better by soaking and grinding, and an electric fishing-hook attachment that reduces accidental catches of sharks and rays.

Research Highlight: Prehistoric rubbish hints that early cooks cared about flavour

Research Highlight: Off the hook: electrical device keeps sharks away from fishing lines

09:31 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, how analysing mosquito blood meals could reveal evidence of infection in people and animals, and how prolific data generation has driven the need for new metric unit prefixes.

Nature News: Mosquito blood meals reveal history of human infections

Nature News: How many yottabytes in a quettabyte? Extreme numbers get new names

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