Developmental Evolution in Social Insects: Regulatory Networks from Genes to Societies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The evolution and development of complex phenotypes in social insect colonies, such as queen-worker dimorphism or division of labor, can, in our opinion, only be fully understood within an expanded mechanistic framework of Developmental Evolution. Conversely, social insects offer a fertile research area in which fundamental questions of Developmental Evolution can be addressed empirically. We review the concept of gene regulatory networks (GRNs) that aims to fully describe the battery of interacting genomic modules that are differentially expressed during the development of individual organisms. We discuss how distinct types of network models have been used to study different levels of biological organization in social insects, from GRNs to social networks. We propose that these hierarchical networks spanning different organizational levels from genes to societies should be integrated and incorporated into full GRN models to elucidate the evolutionary and developmental mechanisms underlying social insect phenotypes. Finally, we discuss prospects and approaches to achieve such an integration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Volume318
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

Fingerprint

social insect
Gene Regulatory Networks
social insects
Insects
gene
Insect Genes
Phenotype
phenotype
genes
insect colonies
Social Support
personal development
polyethism
social networks
labor division
dimorphism
social network
queen insects
Organizations
genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

Cite this

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abstract = "The evolution and development of complex phenotypes in social insect colonies, such as queen-worker dimorphism or division of labor, can, in our opinion, only be fully understood within an expanded mechanistic framework of Developmental Evolution. Conversely, social insects offer a fertile research area in which fundamental questions of Developmental Evolution can be addressed empirically. We review the concept of gene regulatory networks (GRNs) that aims to fully describe the battery of interacting genomic modules that are differentially expressed during the development of individual organisms. We discuss how distinct types of network models have been used to study different levels of biological organization in social insects, from GRNs to social networks. We propose that these hierarchical networks spanning different organizational levels from genes to societies should be integrated and incorporated into full GRN models to elucidate the evolutionary and developmental mechanisms underlying social insect phenotypes. Finally, we discuss prospects and approaches to achieve such an integration.",
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