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Kristina Kverková, Tereza Bělíková, Seweryn Olkowicz, Zuzana Pavelková, M Justin O'Riain, Radim Šumbera, Hynek Burda, Nigel C Bennett, Pavel Němec
The social brain hypothesis (SBH) posits that the demands imposed on individuals by living in cohesive social groups exert a selection pressure favouring the evolution of large brains and complex cognitive abilities. Using volumetry and the isotropic fractionator to determine the size of and numbers of neurons in specific brain regions, here we test this hypothesis in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae). These subterranean rodents exhibit a broad spectrum of social complexity, ranging from strictly solitary through to eusocial cooperative breeders, but feature similar ecologies and life history traits...
June 15, 2018: Scientific Reports
Nicholas G Davies, Andy Gardner
Monogamy is associated with sibling-directed altruism in multiple animal taxa, including insects, birds and mammals. Inclusive-fitness theory readily explains this pattern by identifying high relatedness as a promoter of altruism. In keeping with this prediction, monogamy should promote the evolution of voluntary sterility in insect societies if sterile workers make for better helpers. However, a recent mathematical population-genetics analysis failed to identify a consistent effect of monogamy on voluntary worker sterility...
May 2018: Royal Society Open Science
Weiwu Ren, Regine Gries, Catherine McCaughey, Nathan Derstine, Santosh Alamsetti, Kenji Kurita, Lorna Tu, Roger Linington, Robert Britton, Gerhard J Gries
Yellowjackets in the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula are prevalent eusocial insects of great ecological and economic significance but the chemical signals of their sexual communication systems have defied structural elucidation. Herein, we report the identification of sex attractant pheromone components of virgin bald-faced hornet queens (Dolichovespula maculata). We analyzed body surface extract of queens by coupled gas chromatographic-electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD), isolated the compounds that elicited responses from male antennae by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and identified these components by GC-mass spectrometry (MS), HPLC-MS and NMR spectroscopy...
June 11, 2018: Angewandte Chemie
Lukas Peter Maria Kremer, Judith Korb, Erich Bornberg-Bauer
Social insects show an extreme degree of phenotypic plasticity. In highly eusocial species, this manifests in the generation of distinct castes with extreme differences in both morphology and life span. The molecular basis of these differences is highly entangled and not fully understood, but several recent studies demonstrated that insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) is one of the key pathways. Here, we investigate the molecular evolution of insect insulin receptors (InRs), which are membrane-bound dimers that enable IIS by relaying extracellular signals to intracellular signaling cascades...
June 10, 2018: Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Ben Jones, Emily Shipley, Kathryn E Arnold
Group living is favorable to pathogen spread due to the increased risk of disease transmission among individuals. Similar to individual immune defenses, social immunity, that is antiparasite defenses mounted for the benefit of individuals other than the actor, is predicted to be altered in social groups. The eusocial honey bee ( Apis mellifera ) secretes glucose oxidase (GOX), an antiseptic enzyme, throughout its colony, thereby providing immune protection to other individuals in the hive. We conducted a laboratory experiment to investigate the effects of group density on social immunity, specifically GOX activity, body mass and feeding behavior in caged honey bees...
May 2018: Ecology and Evolution
Bernhard Schaefke, Wei Sun, Yi-Sheng Li, Liang Fang, Wei Chen
"DNA makes RNA makes protein." After transcription, mRNAs undergo a series of intertwining processes to be finally translated into functional proteins. The "posttranscriptional" regulation (PTR) provides cells an extended option to fine-tune their proteomes. To meet the demands of complex organism development and the appropriate response to environmental stimuli, every step in these processes needs to be finely regulated. Moreover, changes in these regulatory processes are important driving forces underlying the evolution of phenotypic differences across different species...
May 31, 2018: Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. RNA
Evelien Jongepier, Carsten Kemena, Alberto Lopez-Ezquerra, Xavier Belles, Erich Bornberg-Bauer, Judith Korb
The evolution of division of labor between sterile and fertile individuals represents one of the major transitions in biological complexity. A fascinating gradient in eusociality evolved among the ancient hemimetabolous insects, ranging from noneusocial cockroaches through the primitively social lower termites-where workers retain the ability to reproduce-to the higher termites, characterized by lifetime commitment to worker sterility. Juvenile hormone (JH) is a prime candidate for the regulation of reproductive division of labor in termites, as it plays a key role in insect postembryonic development and reproduction...
May 29, 2018: Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part B, Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Dennis Russkamp, Matthias Van Vaerenbergh, Stefanie Etzold, Bernadette Eberlein, Ulf Darsow, Maximilian Schiener, Lina De Smet, Magdalena Absmaier, Tilo Biedermann, Edzard Spillner, Markus Ollert, Thilo Jakob, Carsten B Schmidt-Weber, Dirk C de Graaf, Simon Blank
Honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom (HBV) represents an ideal model to study the role of particular venom components in allergic reactions in sensitized individuals as well as in the eusociality of Hymenoptera species. The aim of this study was to further characterize the HBV components C1q-like protein (C1q) and PDGF/VEGF-like factor 1 (PVF1). C1q and PVF1 were produced as recombinant proteins in insect cells. Their allergenic properties were examined by determining the level of specific IgE antibodies in the sera of HBV-allergic patients (n = 26) as well as by their capacity to activate patients' basophils (n = 11)...
May 26, 2018: Toxicon: Official Journal of the International Society on Toxinology
Guy A Cooper, Stuart A West
Division of labour is a common feature of social groups, from biofilms to complex animal societies. However, we lack a theoretical framework that can explain why division of labour has evolved on certain branches of the tree of life but not others. Here, we model the division of labour over a cooperative behaviour, considering both when it should evolve and the extent to which the different types should become specialized. We found that: (1) division of labour is usually-but not always-favoured by high efficiency benefits to specialization and low within-group conflict; and (2) natural selection favours extreme specialization, where some individuals are completely dependent on the helping behaviour of others...
May 28, 2018: Nature Ecology & Evolution
N C Bennett, A Ganswindt, S B Ganswindt, J U M Jarvis, M Zöttl, C G Faulkes
Elevated prolactin (PRL) has been associated with the expression of social and cooperative behaviours in a number of vertebrate species, as well as suppression of reproduction. As social mole-rats exhibit both of these traits, PRL is a prime candidate in mediating their social phenotype. While naked and Damaraland mole-rats (NMRs and DMRs) have evolved eusociality independently within their family, both species exhibit an extreme skew in lifetime reproductive success, with breeding restricted to a single female and one or two males...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Patrick Lhomme, Heather M Hines
In eusocial insects, the high cost of altruistic cooperation between colony members has favoured the evolution of cheaters that exploit social services of other species. In the most extreme forms of insect social parasitism, which has evolved multiple times across most social lineages, obligately parasitic species invade the nests of social species and manipulate the workforce of their hosts to rear their own reproductive offspring. As alien species that have lost their own sociality, these social parasites still face social challenges to infiltrate and control their hosts, thus providing independent replicates for understanding the mechanisms essential to social dominance...
May 22, 2018: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Manuela Sann, Oliver Niehuis, Ralph S Peters, Christoph Mayer, Alexey Kozlov, Lars Podsiadlowski, Sarah Bank, Karen Meusemann, Bernhard Misof, Christoph Bleidorn, Michael Ohl
BACKGROUND: Apoid wasps and bees (Apoidea) are an ecologically and morphologically diverse group of Hymenoptera, with some species of bees having evolved eusocial societies. Major problems for our understanding of the evolutionary history of Apoidea have been the difficulty to trace the phylogenetic origin and to reliably estimate the geological age of bees. To address these issues, we compiled a comprehensive phylogenomic dataset by simultaneously analyzing target DNA enrichment and transcriptomic sequence data, comprising 195 single-copy protein-coding genes and covering all major lineages of apoid wasps and bee families...
May 18, 2018: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Melissa Oddie, Ralph Büchler, Bjørn Dahle, Marin Kovacic, Yves Le Conte, Barbara Locke, Joachim R de Miranda, Fanny Mondet, Peter Neumann
In eusocial insect colonies nestmates cooperate to combat parasites, a trait called social immunity. However, social immunity failed for Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) when the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor switched hosts from Eastern honey bees (Apis cerana). This mite has since become the most severe threat to A. mellifera world-wide. Despite this, some isolated A. mellifera populations are known to survive infestations by means of natural selection, largely by supressing mite reproduction, but the underlying mechanisms of this are poorly understood...
May 16, 2018: Scientific Reports
Natalie J Lemanski, Nina H Fefferman
One evolutionary view of aging, the disposable soma theory, suggests that an organism's rate of senescence depends on the amount of energy invested in somatic maintenance. Since organisms have limited energy to allocate among growth, maintenance, and reproduction, the optimal amount of energy to invest in maintenance is influenced by the probability of death from extrinsic causes and the effect of somatic investment on survival. In eusocial animals, the disposable soma theory can be used to explain colonies' energy investment in the longevity of workers, who act as the somatic elements of a superorganism...
June 2018: American Naturalist
Kenji Matsuura, Nobuaki Mizumoto, Kazuya Kobayashi, Tomonari Nozaki, Tadahide Fujita, Toshihisa Yashiro, Taro Fuchikawa, Yuki Mitaka, Edward L Vargo
Eusocial insects exhibit the most striking example of phenotypic plasticity. There has been a long controversy over the factors determining caste development of individuals in social insects. Here we demonstrate that parental phenotypes influence the social status of offspring not through genetic inheritance but through genomic imprinting in termites. Our extensive field survey and genetic analysis of the termite Reticulitermes speratus show that its breeding system is inconsistent with a genetic caste determination model...
June 2018: American Naturalist
Linh M Chau, Amy M Groh, Emily C Anderson, Micaela O Alcala, Joseph R Mendelson, Stephanie B Slade, Kenton Kerns, Steve Sarro, Clinton Lusardi, Michael A D Goodisman
The naked mole rat, Heterocephalus glaber, is a highly unusual mammal that displays a complex social system similar to that found in eusocial insects. Colonies of H. glaber are commonly maintained in zoo collections because they represent fascinating educational exhibits for the public. However, little is known about the genetic structure or sex ratio of captive populations of H. glaber. In this study, we developed a set of microsatellite markers to examine genetic variation in three captive zoo populations of H...
May 8, 2018: Zoo Biology
Zoé Husson, Ewan St John Smith
Regulation of brain pH is a critical homeostatic process and changes in brain pH modulate various ion channels and receptors and thus neuronal excitability. Tissue acidosis, resulting from hypoxia or hypercapnia, can activate various proteins and ion channels, among which acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) a family of primarily Na+ permeable ion channels, which alongside classical excitotoxicity causes neuronal death. Naked mole-rats (NMRs, Heterocephalus glaber) are long-lived, fossorial, eusocial rodents that display remarkable behavioral/cellular hypoxia and hypercapnia resistance...
May 9, 2018: Molecular Brain
Harim I Won, Thomas T Schulze, Emalie J Clement, Gabrielle F Watson, Sean M Watson, Rosalie C Warner, Elizabeth A M Ramler, Elias J Witte, Mark A Schoenbeck, Claudia M Rauter, Paul H Davis
Burying beetles ( Nicrophorus spp.) are among the relatively few insects that provide parental care while not belonging to the eusocial insects such as ants or bees. This behavior incurs energy costs as evidenced by immune deficits and shorter life-spans in reproducing beetles. In the absence of an assembled transcriptome, relatively little is known concerning the molecular biology of these beetles. This work details the assembly and analysis of the Nicrophorus orbicollis transcriptome at multiple developmental stages...
2018: Journal of Genomics
Charlotta Kvarnemo
Why do some animals mate with one partner rather than many? Here, I investigate factors related to (i) spatial constraints (habitat limitation, mate availability), (ii) time constraints (breeding synchrony, length of breeding season), (iii) need for parental care, and (iv) genetic compatibility, to see what support can be found in different taxa regarding the importance of these factors in explaining the occurrence of monogamy, whether shown by one sex (monogyny or monandry) or by both sexes (mutual monogamy)...
April 23, 2018: Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Fabio Fernando Flores, Norma Inés Hilgert, Liliana Concepción Lupo
BACKGROUND: The order Hymenoptera comprises melliferous insects (bees, wasps and bumblebees); among them, stingless bees comprise a diverse group of eusocial insects present in tropical and subtropical areas. Of a total of approximately 500 species, 400 are found in the Neotropics. On the continent of America, before the introduction of Apis mellifera, these insects represented the main source of honey and wax. In Argentina, ethnobiological investigations had been carried out on this group of insects, principally in the Atlantic Forest and Chaco regions...
April 11, 2018: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
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