Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Paper wasps and honey bees share a genetic toolkit

28.04.2010
They are both nest-building social insects, but paper wasps and honey bees organize their colonies in very different ways. In a new study, researchers report that despite their differences, these insects rely on the same network of genes to guide their social behavior.

The study appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Honey bees and paper wasps are separated by more than 100 million years of evolution, and there are striking differences in how they divvy up the work of maintaining a colony, said University of Illinois entomology professor Gene Robinson, who led the study with postdoctoral researcher Amy Toth.

“Honey bees have a sharp division of labor between queens, which reproduce, and workers, which care for the brood and forage for food, while among paper wasps social roles are much more fluid,” he said. “And yet the same genes can be used by these different organisms to do similar kinds of things. This is the genetic toolkit idea: The same genetic elements are used for different types of division of labor.”

A genetic toolkit already has been found for physical traits, such as the development of eyes, said Robinson, who is also a professor in the Institute for Genomic Biology. For example, the same gene, called PAX-6, is involved in eye development in mammals and insects, even though it is virtually certain that these structures did not evolve from a similar structure in a common ancestor.

For the new study, the researchers compared the activation of genes in the brains of four groups of female paper wasps (Polistes metricus) that have different roles in the nest, with some more active in reproduction and others more active in provisioning the brood.

The purpose of the study was to determine if differences in brain gene activity between the wasps rely on the same networks of genes that in the honey bee (Apis mellifera) drive their division of labor.

A previous study of paper wasps by Robinson, Toth and their colleagues obtained a partial sequence of the wasp genome and looked at the expression of 32 genes. That analysis, published in Science in 2007, showed that – as in honey bees – most of the targeted genes are activated differently in different groups of paper wasps. But those genes were hand-picked because they were important to honey bees, Robinson said. For this reason, the team wanted to take a second look at the broad array of genes in the wasp – to be sure that the pattern they had identified was indeed special to wasps as well as bees.

Crop sciences professor Matt Hudson, the team’s bioinformatics expert, used a computer algorithm to mine the sequencing data from the previous study to design a microarray. The microarray allowed the researchers to simultaneously measure those genes that were most active in the paper wasp brain.

“We expect that Polistes has got somewhere in the range of 10,000 genes, and we expect that at least half of them, but not all of them, would be expressed in the brain,” said Hudson, who also is a professor in the Institute for Genomic Biology. The effort identified more than 4,900 genes that were active in the wasp brain.

The new analysis confirmed that the same genes and gene regulators that are important to the division of labor within a honey bee hive also are used by the wasps as they take on different roles in the nest.

The team included researchers from the department of animal biology at Illinois, as well as from Grand Valley State University. Amy Toth now is a professor at Iowa State University.

This study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Illinois Sociogenomics Initiative.

Diana Yates | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>