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Altruism during extra-corporeal detoxification in insects
  • Jing Yang,
  • Yiwen Wang,
  • Bernard Moussian
Jing Yang
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

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Yiwen Wang
Tianjin University
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Bernard Moussian
Université Côte d'Azur
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Altruism is common in eusocial insects. Here, we report on a yet unexplored altruistic extra-corporeal detoxification of insecticides in the non-eusocial Drosophila melanogaster. Wild-type flies incubated with DDT, a contact insecticide, in a closed environment die as expected. However, incubation of a second cohort in the same environment after removal of the dead flies was not lethal. Consistent to the kin selection theory, the effect is significantly lower if un-related wild-type flies are used in the assay. This indicates kin selection. Incubation assays with Chlorpyrifos, another contact insecticide, yielded identical results, while incubation assays with Chlorantraniliprole, again a contact insecticide, was toxic for the second cohort of flies. Consequently, following individuals might be saved from intoxication and therefore, this phenomenon may serve as an example of non-eusocial insect altruism. This novel program is, however, not omnipotent as it targets certain xenobiotics while others remain active. The molecular and genetic mechanisms await identification and characterization.