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Principles of disease defence in organisms, superorganisms and societies

Social distancing is an effective way to prevent the spread of disease in societies, whereas infection elimination is a key element of organismal immunity. Here, we discuss how the study of social insects such as ants — which form a superorganism of unconditionally cooperative individuals and thus represent a level of organization that is intermediate between a classical society of individuals and an organism of cells — can help to determine common principles of disease defence across levels of organization.

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Fig. 1: Disease defence across organizational levels.


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Correspondence to Sylvia Cremer.

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Cremer, S., Sixt, M. Principles of disease defence in organisms, superorganisms and societies. Nat Rev Immunol 22, 713–714 (2022).

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