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

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Transcriptomic bases of caste determination in ants

Author(s):
Eléonore Genzoni, Eléonore Genzoni , Tanja Schwander , Laurent Keller
Institution(s):
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland ; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland ; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Phenotypic plasticity, the capacity of a single genome to produce different phenotypes in response to environmental cues, has been a topic of interest for the past decade. However, there is limited understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. Eusocial insects provide a good model to study phenotypic plasticity thanks to the presence of reproductive queens and non-reproductive workers that differ greatly in morphology, physiology, behavior and life history. This study aims at identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying gyne and worker caste differentiation in ants. Using transcriptomics, we are identifying differentially expressed/methylated genes between gyne- and worker-destined individuals to identify those involved in caste determination. We next plan to manipulate caste fate by injecting RNAi in the eggs before caste differentiation, using an injection technic we recently developed with Pogonomyrmex rugosus. This study should give insights into the proximate mechanisms of caste determination and improve our understanding of the evolution of phenotypic plasticity.
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