International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Anatomical and gene expression changes in brain during transition from virgin gyne to mated queen

Author(s):
Lisa Eigil Brandenborg, Lisa Eigil Brandenborg , Manuel Nagel , Guojie Zhang
Institution(s):
Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark ; Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark ; Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Ants as social insects have a clear reproductive division of labor. The reproductive female caste traverses two developmental phases as adults, the unmated gynes and mated queens, which display dramatic behavioral differences. Usually after mating the queen sheds her wings and starts laying eggs. If gynes never mate, and by that never become queens, they show a rather worker like behavior and will ultimately shed their wings.  We propose that the differences in neuroanatomical structure and molecular composition in brain across gynes and queens will explain the behavioral transition. We used an integrative approach combining neuroanatomical investigations and brain transcriptome analyses to study the transition from gynes to queens of Monomorium pharaonis. This approach enables tracing the developmental processes of gynes, gynes with surgically removed wings, and queens. The three experimental groups will be studied at different time points, to see when phase-specific changes in anatomy and gene expression patterns occur. Our results will allow us to specify which functional brain regions differ and might finally contribute to the observed behavioral differences between gynes and queens.
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