Determining the molecular basis of sociality in insects: progress, prospects and potential in sociogenomics

Seirian Sumner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How complex biological diversity can arise from seemingly simple strands of DNA is one of the most pertinent of questions confronting 21st century biologists. With the increasing availability and cost effectiveness of genomic techniques, there has been a rapid expansion in the taxonomic breadth of species that can now be studied at the molecular level of the genes. Consequently, behavioural ecologists are now able to examine the behaviours of their study organisms at an entirely new level. Here I review the current progress made in sociogenomics - the study of the molecular basis of sociality - with particular emphasis on what genome-level studies can reveal about social evolution. First I discuss the evolutionary interactions that occur between the genome and sociality. Next I review the current literature on how genes underlie queen and worker caste evolution: I identify 19 genes that are likely to be of importance in the evolution of caste systems across eusocial taxa; I make predictions on how gene expression patterns might orchestrate the evolution of social complexity, and make preliminary tests using the available data. Finally, I outline major questions in social evolution that can be addressed for the first time using a sociogenomic approach, highlight practical considerations in sociogenomics and discuss suitable model systems for future research on the molecular basis of sociality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-442
Number of pages20
JournalAnnales Zoologici Fennici
Volume43
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2006

Keywords

  • DIFFERENTIAL GENE-EXPRESSION
  • HONEYBEE APIS-MELLIFERA
  • DIVISION-OF-LABOR
  • KIN SELECTION
  • CASTE DIFFERENTIATION
  • PHENOTYPIC PLASTICITY
  • COMPARATIVE GENOMICS
  • POLISTES-CANADENSIS
  • JUVENILE-HORMONE
  • EVOLUTION

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