Why does the Ant Queens Live Longer than The Worker Ant?

How The Ant Queens Extend their life Ant queens are one of the insects that have longevity. The matriarchs prolong […]

Ant queen

How The Ant Queens Extend their life

Ant queens are one of the insects that have longevity. The matriarchs prolong their lives by blocking a section of a molecular pathway associated with aging. The key to longevity for some ant queens may be a self-produced insulin blocker. Ant queens are renowned for living a lengthy life despite the fact that they should not be. we have known that Animals which invest a lot of energy in reproduction typically give up some of their lifespan. Nevertheless, In contrast to worker ants which do not reproduce, ant queens generate millions of eggs and have exceptionally lengthy lifespans [1].

Ant queen with their colonies

How the Ant queens achieves the anti-aging miracle

In addition, researchers have demonstrated how one species of ant achieves this anti-aging miracle. They present of their discovery in the Sept. 2, 2022 at the Journal of Science. When queens and wannabe queens of the species Harpegnathos saltator prepare to reproduce, a portion of the so-called insulin signaling pathway gets inhibited, reducing aging. The molecular pathway has long been implicated in aging in mammals, including humans.

The Ant queens can live up to 30 times

According to Marc Tatar, a biologist at Brown University, “There has been a desire to understand why queens in social insects can live for such astonishingly long times.” The queens of some ant species can live up to 30 times longer than the workers. Queens of other social insects like termites and bees can live for a very long time too. When a queen H. saltator dies, some female workers engage in competitive duels in an unusual behavior for ants. These future queens grow ovaries, begin to lay eggs, and change into gamergates, which resemble queens. As a result, a worker’s life span increases 5 times when she transforms into a gamergate. But if she doesn’t succeed in becoming queen and goes back to being a worker, her life span shortens again.

The scientists look into the molecular mechanisms of the ability of Ants to delay aging

The scientists took advantage of this tendency to look into the molecular mechanisms underlying the ants’ ability to delay aging. It turns out that H. saltator gamergates use a split in the insulin signaling pathway, the series of chemical events that regulate insulin’s effects on the body, to lengthen their lifespans. This route has two branches, one of which is connected to aging and the other to reproduction. “Insulin comes with our life — [after] we eat, we have high insulin,” says Hua Yan, a biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “But a constant high level of insulin is bad for longevity.”

Imp-L2 Makes The Ant queens have anti-aging

Finally, Yan and colleagues examined patterns of gene activity and discovered that gamergates have more insulin-active genes than typical worker ants, which leads to an increase in metabolic activity and ovary development. However, tests revealed that Imp-L2, a chemical, appears to be the magic ingredient defending the ants from the aging effects of insulin. Imp-L2 blocks the branch of the insulin pathway associated with aging. However, the reproductive branch is still functioning. “What we don’t understand is how Imp-L2 can act on one aspect of the pathway and not on the other,” says study coauthor Claude Desplan, a developmental biologist at New York University. The researchers showed that these findings of high social insect longevity while also demonstrating a hitherto undiscovered in the field anti-aging evolutionary strategy.


[1] Hua Yan et al. 2022. Insulin signaling in the long-lived reproductive caste of ants. Science. Vol. 377, p. 1092. doi: 10.1126/science.abm8767.

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