The first manuscript from Rohini’s thesis is now on biorxiv, showing how the bacterial endysombiont Wolbachia increases reproductive investment (i.e. queen production) and accelerates the life cycle of pharaoh ant colonies. This study uses two assays to show that Wolbachia seems to have a positive effect on pharaoh ant colonies (infected colonies grow faster and produce more queens), so that Wolbachia infection might be expected to quickly sweep through pharaoh ant populations. This positive effect of Wolbachia infection on host colony growth and reproduction is likely particularly beneficial in rapidly growing populations. Notably, pharaoh ants are considered to be one of the most successful and widespread invasive ants, and perhaps Wolbachia contributes to the pharaoh ant’s invasiveness.
After more than 10 years of hard work establishing the pharaoh ant mapping population by systematically intercrossing 8 initial parental lineages, we have completed the first manuscript using the heterogeneous stock mapping population. In the manuscript now on biorxiv, “Ant collective behavior is heritable and shaped by selection“, Justin quantified variation for three collective behaviors, as well as caste ratio, sex ratio, and body size for three replicate sub-colonies of 81 distinct colony genotypes of known pedigree to estimate heritability and genetic correlations for the traits, as well as the strength and pattern of selection acting on the traits.
I am currently on sabbatical as part of a syngenomics focus group at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Institute of Advanced Studies).
(me with Mike Wade, Jason Wolf, and Judie Bronstein)
Michael led a study on the transcriptomic basis and evolution of the pharaoh ant “social interactome”, i.e. the set of genes expressed in interacting worker nurses and developing larvae that affects larval development, which is now available on bioRxiv .
Michael led a study on the genomic basis of the convergent evolution of reproductive caste and worker age polyethism in honey bees and pharaoh ants, which is now available on bioRxiv: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/10/26/454645 .
Our previous manuscripts on bioRxiv have now been published!
Justin, Michael, Adrian, and Ben have submitted a manuscript showing behavioral and transcriptomic specialization of pharaoh ant nurses based on the age of larvae they feed: https://doi.org/10.1101/218834.
Michael and Jessica have submitted a manuscript showing how pharaoh ant colonies regulate caste and colony demography by culling sexual brood: https://doi.org/10.1101/211573
Our paper ” Genomic signature of kin selection in an ant with obligately sterile workers” is finally accepted at Molecular Biology and Evolution!
Michael’s first paper in the lab and the first from a PhD student in the lab!
New paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, building on previous population genetic models to describe how combinations of sex-limited expression and diverse fitness effects (direct, parental, sib, offspring) are expected to affect rates of molecular evolution.