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Determinants of social organisation in ant colonies

Titel Englisch Determinants of social organisation in ant colonies
Gesuchsteller/in Keller Laurent
Nummer 118194
Förderungsinstrument Projektförderung (Abt. I-III)
Forschungseinrichtung Département d'Ecologie et d'Evolution Faculté de Biologie et de Médecine Université de Lausanne
Hochschule Universität Lausanne - LA
Hauptdisziplin Zoologie
Beginn/Ende 01.10.2007 - 30.09.2010
Bewilligter Betrag 834'000.00
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Alle Disziplinen (2)


Keywords (4)

Ants; social insects; social organisation; behaviour

Lay Summary (Englisch)

Lay summary
The social organisation of ants is a highly complex, adaptive phenotype that forms the basis of their tremendous ecological success. The aim of this proposal is two-fold. First, we propose to study the genetic and social mechanisms underlying a fundamental social polymorphism in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. In the monogyne social form of this species, colonies invariably contain a single queen, whereas colonies of the polygyne form contain anywhere between 2 and 200 queens. This fundamental difference in social organisation is completely associated with variation at the odourant binding protein gene Gp-9. The behaviour of fire ant workers depends on both their own Gp-9 genotype and the proportion of workers harbouring an identical genotype in their colony. We propose to investigate how social interactions together with genomic differences at this locus influence the expression of other genes and, ultimately, affect the behaviour of workers. With the help of a microarray, we will compare overall gene expression of workers with alternate Gp-9 genotypes within single polygyne colonies, because previous studies have shown that Gp-9 genotype is associated with important individual behavioural differences within this social form. This experiment should provide information on whether genes other than Gp-9 may also be involved in these behavioural differences. Next we will compare gene expression between workers of the two social forms bearing identical Gp-9 genotypes to determine how social environment affects gene expression. This experiment is motivated by previous studies showing that workers of a given genotype may behave differently depending on their social environment. The second aim of this proposal is to identify the selective forces underlying a dramatic allele frequency difference between queens and males in the Argentine ant Linepithema humile (project B). In previous studies we found that one allele at the microsatellite locus Lhum-28 occurred at very high frequency in queens but was rare in their mates, while another allele was rare in queens but frequent in their mates. No differences between queens and their mates were found at any of the seven other microsatellite loci tested. Importantly, Lhum-28 allele frequencies were similar in queens and their daughter workers, suggesting that Lhum-28, or a locus in linkage disequilibrium with it, may affect sex determination. To test this hypothesis and identify the mechanisms underlying the association between sex and Lhum-28 genotype, we will analyse male and female genotypes across different developmental stages in colonies headed by parents of known genotypes.
Direktlink auf Lay Summary Letzte Aktualisierung: 21.02.2013

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