Social immunisation

Preventing future infection

Social contact with infectious colony members causes pathogen transmission to previously healthy colony members. Often, this cross-contamination only leads to low-level infection of the colony members, which does not cause disease but induces a protective immunisation.

Read more on how social contact to infectious nestmates can induce immune protection against future infection and how altered disease susceptibility shapes the sanitary care of the ants.


Research Article
Konrad M, Pull CD, Metzler S, Seif K, Naderlinger E, Grasse AV, Cremer S
(2018) Ants avoid superinfections by performing risk-adjusted sanitary care
Review Article
Masri L, Cremer S
(2014) Individual and social immunisation in insects
Trends in Immunology
Research Article
Konrad M, Vyleta ML, Theis FJ, Tragust S, Stock M, Klatt M, Descher V, Marr C, Ugelvig LV, Cremer S
(2012) Social transfer of pathogenic fungus promotes active immunisation in ant colonies
PLoS Biology
Research Article
Ugelvig LV, Cremer S
(2007) Social prophylaxis: group interaction promotes collective immunity in ant colonies
Current Biology

The concept

Sanitary care

Nest hygiene

Treating infection

Social immunisation

Organisational immunity