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A molecular concept of caste in insect societies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-50
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Insect Science
Volume25
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Nov 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Feb 2018

Abstract

The term ‘caste’ is used to describe the division of reproductive labour that defines eusocial insect societies. The definition of ‘caste’ has been debated over the last 50 years, specifically with respect to the simplest insect societies; this raises the question of whether a simple categorisation of social behaviour by reproductive state alone is helpful. Gene-level analyses of behaviours of individuals in hymenopteran social insect societies now provide a new empirical base-line for defining caste and understanding the evolution and maintenance of a reproductive division of labour. We review this literature to identify a set of potential molecular signatures that, combined with behavioural, morphological and physiological data, help define caste more precisely; these signatures vary with the type of society, and are likely to be influenced by ecology, life-history, and stage in the colony cycle. We conclude that genomic approaches provide us with additional ways to help quantify and categorise caste, and behaviour in general.

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  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Elsevier at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214574517301104?via%3Dihub. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 295 KB, PDF-document

    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND

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