EPIDEMICSonCHIP is an ERC funded consolidator grant that will run for approximately 5 years and is co-ordinated by the Institute of Science and Technology Vienna (IST Austria).
The monitoring of social insects (in this case ants) should allow the researchers to better understand how the collective defence of colonies allows the prevention of epidemics in their societies. “Lab-on-chip” techniques will provide the necessary data, over time, to quantify how disease can shape society and vice versa.
In collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science an automatised ant nest will be built in lab, where the presence of pathogens and ant manipulation will determine how the colony communicate its own state of health. These experiments could help with the understanding of the evolution of social immunity.