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Molecular signatures of plastic phenotypes in two eusocial insect species with simple societies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Stockholm University, Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab). The Babraham Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
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Number of Authors: 26
2015 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 112, no 45, 13970-13975 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Phenotypic plasticity is important in adaptation and shapes the evolution of organisms. However, we understand little about what aspects of the genome are important in facilitating plasticity. Eusocial insect societies produce plastic phenotypes from the same genome, as reproductives (queens) and nonreproductives (workers). The greatest plasticity is found in the simple eusocial insect societies in which individuals retain the ability to switch between reproductive and nonreproductive phenotypes as adults. We lack comprehensive data on the molecular basis of plastic phenotypes. Here, we sequenced genomes, microRNAs (miRNAs), and multiple transcriptomes and methylomes from individual brains in a wasp (Polistes canadensis) and an ant (Dinoponera quadriceps) that live in simple eusocial societies. In both species, we found few differences between phenotypes at the transcriptional level, with little functional specialization, and no evidence that phenotype-specific gene expression is driven by DNA methylation or miRNAs. Instead, phenotypic differentiation was defined more subtly by nonrandom transcriptional network organization, with roles in these networks for both conserved and taxon-restricted genes. The general lack of highly methylated regions or methylome patterning in both species may be an important mechanism for achieving plasticity among phenotypes during adulthood. These findings define previously unidentified hypotheses on the genomic processes that facilitate plasticity and suggest that the molecular hallmarks of social behavior are likely to differ with the level of social complexity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 112, no 45, 13970-13975 p.
Keyword [en]
social evolution, phenotypic plasticity, genome sequencing, transcriptomes, DNA methylation
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-124176DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515937112ISI: 000364470300070PubMedID: 26483466OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-124176DiVA: diva2:884961
Available from: 2015-12-17 Created: 2015-12-15 Last updated: 2015-12-17Bibliographically approved

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Ewels, Philip
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Department of Biochemistry and BiophysicsScience for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab)
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