The making of a social insect

Developmental architectures of social design

Robert Page, Gro Amdam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

119 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We marvel at the social complexity of insects, marked by anatomically and behaviorally distinguishable castes, division of labor and specialization - but how do such systems evolve? Insect societies are composed of individuals, each undergoing its own developmental process and each containing its own genetic information and experiencing its own developmental and experiential environment. Yet societies appear to function as if the colonies themselves are individuals with novel "social genes" and novel social developmental processes. We propose an alternative hypothesis. The origins of complex social behavior, from which insect societies emerge, are derived from ancestral developmental programs. These programs originated in ancient solitary insects and required little evolutionary remodeling. We present evidence from behavioral assays, selective breeding, genetic mapping, functional genomics and endocrinology, and comparative anatomy and physiology. These insights explain how complex social behavior can evolve from heterochronic changes in reproductive signaling systems that govern ubiquitous and ancient relationships between behavior and ovarian development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-343
Number of pages10
JournalBioEssays
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2007

Fingerprint

Endocrinology
insect colonies
social insects
Physiology
social behavior
Insects
Assays
Genes
Personnel
polyethism
endocrinology
ovarian development
Social Behavior
selection methods
chromosome mapping
physiology
Comparative Physiology
Comparative Anatomy
genomics
insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Developmental Biology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science

Cite this

The making of a social insect : Developmental architectures of social design. / Page, Robert; Amdam, Gro.

In: BioEssays, Vol. 29, No. 4, 04.2007, p. 334-343.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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