- The 2nd IRDiRC Conference Shares Care for the Rare
- BGI Dx and Bioscience Genomics Announce Multi-million Euro 5 Year Framework Agreement in The Field of Personalized Medicine and Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing
- BGI Is Granted Patent In 16 Countries For Non-Invasive Prenatal Genetic Test Technology Used In BGI Dx’s Market Leading NIFTY® Test
- Director Jun Wang on CNBC NEXT LIST for the next 25 years
- Scientists resolve the evolution of insects
- BGI Tech and Hebei Agricultural University Complete the Genome Sequencing of the Commercially Important Jujube Tree
- New study uses DNA sequences to look back in time at key events in plant evolution
- The latest research on camelid genomes revealed their evolution and adaptation to desert environments
- BGI Health Forms Partnership with University of Mayor in South America
- BGI Health and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Collaborated to Introduce NIFTY Test to India
- BGI Health Joins Hand with Star Metropolis Clinical Laboratories to Provide Genetic Testing Service
- BGI-Hong Kong 3730 Production Center Begins Operating, Providing Fast and High-quality Sequencing Services
- US genomics lead being lost to China
- BGI Scientists Expand Reference Genes for Human Microbiome
- Around The World: Four Innovative Companies We Can Learn From
- China's genomics success shows big data challenges
Tel: +86-755-25031760Email: email@example.com
Social insects, which usually have specialized behavioral groups (also called castes), are important models for social evolution and behavior researches. How division of labor in insect societies is regulated is an outstanding question and not fully understood yet. However, in many social insect species, experimental control over important factors that regulate division of labor, such as genotype and age, is limited. In a study published online on February 6th in Current Biology, researchers from Rockefeller University and BGI-Shenzhen have sequenced the genome of the queenless clonal raider ant Cerapachys biroi, a new model system to study the molecular mechanisms of social behaviors.
Ants of the genus Cerapachys are myrmecophagous and raid the nests of other ants. It belongs to the dorylomorph clade of ants, which also includes the infamous army ants. Since the early 1900s, introduced populations of C. biroi have become established on tropical and subtropical islands around the world, probably as a consequence of human traffic and trade. Like in many other army ants, colonies of C. biroi undergo two phases in their life cycles: one is for reproduction and the other for foraging and brood care. And more interestingly, colonies of C. biroi uniquely consist entirely of totipotent workers, all of which reproduce asexually.
The authors noted one of the most interesting findings of this study is that nestmates in a colony are almost clonally related and reproduce via an asexual way called automixis with central fusion, which was also found in the Cape honeybees. Asexual reproduction usually leads to loss of genomic heterozygosity, which is harmful in the long run. However, that genomic heterozygosity in C. biroi is lost extremely slowly. “It is not yet clear whether maintaining heterozygosity in C. biroi is through reduced recombination during meiosis, via selection against homozygous individuals, or both.” said Dr. Peter Oxley, co-first author of this study, in Laboratory of Insect Social Evolution, Rockefeller University.
Nestmates of C. biroi can synchronously alternate between reproduction and brood care. The authors also found expression patterns of the genes associated with division of labor in other social insects are conserved in C. biroi and dynamically regulated during the colony cycle. “This suggests that the gene networks underlying reproduction and brood care in C. biroi are likely to be the same conserved networks underlying caste-specific behavior in other eusocial insects.” said Dr. Daniel Kronauer, co-senior author of this study and head of Laboratory of Insect Social Evolution in Rockefeller University.
Because C. biroi colonies have totipotent workers and no queens, it is easy to conduct colony propagation and control the composition of arbitrarily sized experimental colonies. In addition, the colony cycle of C. biroi allows for precise selection of age-matched workers and experimental control over colony demography. “Ants represent one of the most successful exclusively eusocial insects, with at least 15,000 species have been recorded, they have evolved innumerous diversity. This is the fourth ant genome published in our group. The clonal raider ant is unique in many aspects compared to other ants. There are still many interesting questions related to the development and evolution of the queenless and reproductive cycle in this system that we don’t know yet. The availability of this genome could pave the road for these future studies.” said Dr. Guojie Zhang, co-senior author of this study, from China National Genebank, BGI-Shenzhen and Centre for Social Evolution in University of Copenhagen.