Molecular traces of alternative social organization in a termite genome.

  title={Molecular traces of alternative social organization in a termite genome.},
  author={Nicolas Terrapon and Cai Li and Hugh M. Robertson and Lu Ji and Xuehong Meng and Warren Booth and Zhensheng Chen and Christopher P. Childers and Karl M. Glastad and Kaustubh Gokhale and Johannes Gowin and Wulfila Gronenberg and Russell A. Hermansen and Haofu Hu and Brendan G. Hunt and Ann Kathrin Huylmans and Sayed M.S. Khalil and Robert D. Mitchell and Monica C. Munoz-Torres and Julie A. Mustard and Hailin Pan and Justin T. Reese and Michael E Scharf and Fengming Sun and Heiko Vogel and Jin Xiao and Wei Yang and Zhikai Yang and Zuoquan Yang and Jiajian Zhou and Jiwei Zhu and Colin S. Brent and Christine G. Elsik and Michael A. D. Goodisman and David A. Liberles and Richard Michael Roe and Edward L. Vargo and Andreas Vilcinskas and Jun Wang and Erich Bornberg-Bauer and Judith Korb and Guojie Zhang and J{\"u}rgen Liebig},
  journal={Nature communications},
Although eusociality evolved independently within several orders of insects, research into the molecular underpinnings of the transition towards social complexity has been confined primarily to Hymenoptera (for example, ants and bees. [] Key Result We show an expansion of genes related to male fertility, with upregulated gene expression in male reproductive individuals reflecting the profound differences in mating biology relative to the Hymenoptera.

A genomic comparison of two termites with different social complexity

Key characteristics of genomic architecture are compared, focusing on genes involved in communication, immune defenses, mating biology and symbiosis that were likely important in termite social evolution.

Conserved Genes Underlie Phenotypic Plasticity in an Incipiently Social Bee

The first genome of an incipiently social bee that shows both solitary and social colony organization in sympatry, the Australian carpenter bee Ceratina australensis, is provided, providing support for the role of conserved genes and cis-regulation of gene expression in the phenotypic plasticity observed in nest-sharing.

The Genome and Methylome of a Subsocial Small Carpenter Bee, Ceratina calcarata

The genome of a subsocial bee, Ceratina calcarata, is presented and the first methylome of a noneusocial bee is provided, which allows for new lines of research into the genetic and epigenetic precursors to complex social behaviors.

Molecular Evolution of Insect Sociality: An Eco-Evo-Devo Perspective.

Available data on molecular evolution of insect sociality is reviewed and key biotic and abiotic factors influencing social insect genomes are highlighted and both phylogenetic and ecological evolutionary developmental biology perspectives are suggested for a more synthetic view of molecular evolution in insect societies.

Genomic Signals of Adaptation towards Mutualism and Sociality in Two Ambrosia Beetle Complexes

Convergent changes in evolutionary rates of proteins across lineages with phylogenetically independent origins of sociality and mutualism are found, suggesting a constrained evolution of conserved genes in social species, and an evolutionary rate acceleration related to changes in selective pressures in mutualistic lineages.

Hemimetabolous genomes reveal molecular basis of termite eusociality

Dramatic adaptive changes in genes underlying the production and perception of pheromones confirm the importance of chemical communication in the termites and provide insights into the evolutionary signatures of termite eusociality.

The Nicrophorus vespilloides genome and methylome, a beetle with complex social behavior

This work presents information on the genome of the subsocial beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, a species long used to investigate evolutionary questions of complex social behavior, and finds strong evidence of DNA methylation, which allows this species to be used to address questions about the potential role of methylation in social behavior.

Transcriptomic analyses of the termite, Cryptotermes secundus, reveal a gene network underlying a long lifespan and high fecundity

Lin et al. use transcriptomics in the social termite, Cryptotermes secundus, to investigate potential pathways underlying the long lifespan and high fecundity of insect queens, and find a module of coexpressed genes in queens that is enriched for pathways involved in fecundness, juvenile hormone signaling, and chemical communication.

The Genome and Methylome of a Beetle with Complex Social Behavior, Nicrophorus vespilloides (Coleoptera: Silphidae)

Testing for conserved and novel mechanisms underlying phenotypic evolution requires a diversity of genomes available for comparison spanning multiple independent lineages. For example, complex social

Genes Underlying Reproductive Division of Labor in Termites, with Comparisons to Social Hymenoptera

  • J. Korb
  • Biology
    Front. Ecol. Evol.
  • 2016
The genes and their function that have been identified to underlie reproductive division of labor in the drywood termite Cryptotermes secundus, an emerging model to study termite social evolution are provided.



Social insect genomes exhibit dramatic evolution in gene composition and regulation while preserving regulatory features linked to sociality.

While the "socio-genomes" of ants and the honeybee are broadly characterized by a pervasive pattern of divergence in gene composition and regulation, they preserve lineage-specific regulatory features linked to eusociality, it is proposed that changes in gene regulation played a key role in the origins of insect eussociality.

Comparison of queen-specific gene expression in related lower termite species.

Only three genes showed a conserved and highly preferential expression in female neotenics, suggesting that their products may play important roles in female reproductives, in particular in controlling caste determination and reproductive division of labor.

Molecular evolutionary analyses of insect societies

Drawing from whole-genome comparisons, candidate gene approaches, and a genome-scale comparative analysis of protein-coding sequence, novel insights are highlighted for five major biological processes: chemical signaling, brain development and function, immunity, reproduction, and metabolism and nutrition.

Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera

The genome sequence of the honeybee Apis mellifera is reported, suggesting a novel African origin for the species A. melliferA and insights into whether Africanized bees spread throughout the New World via hybridization or displacement.

Evidence of a conserved functional role for DNA methylation in termites

Overall, the findings strongly suggest DNA methylation is present at particularly high levels in termites and may play similar roles to those found in other insects.

Genomic Comparison of the Ants Camponotus floridanus and Harpegnathos saltator

The genomes of two socially divergent ant species exhibiting differences in caste development are sequenced and used to compare gene expression and identify differences in epigenetic gene regulation that lead to the phenotypic differences.

Molecular basis for the reproductive division of labour in a lower termite

Interestingly, this study revealed an expression pattern partly similar to social Hymenoptera indicating both common and species-specific regulatory mechanisms in hemimetabolous and holometabolous social insects.

Social exploitation of hexamerin: RNAi reveals a major caste-regulatory factor in termites.

  • X. ZhouF. OiM. Scharf
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2006
It is found that the two hexamerin proteins, which are inducible by the morphogenetic juvenile hormone and which constitute a significant proportion of total termite protein, suppress juvenile-hormone-dependent worker differentiation to the soldier caste phenotype, thus apparently enhancing colony-inclusive fitness.

The evolution of invertebrate gene body methylation.

It is found that genes that are methylated in all four invertebrate taxa are enriched for housekeeping functions related to transcription and translation, whereas the loss of DNA methylation occurred in genes whose functions include cellular signaling and reproductive processes.

The genome of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta

A phylogenetic analysis revealed that an ancestral vitellogenin gene first underwent a duplication that was followed by possibly independent duplications of each of the daughter viteLLogenins, possibly reflecting differential selection acting on the queen and worker castes.