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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Nov 10;112(45):13970-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1515937112. Epub 2015 Oct 19.

Molecular signatures of plastic phenotypes in two eusocial insect species with simple societies.

Author information

1
The Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB22 3AT, United Kingdom; solenn.patalano@babraham.ac.uk wolf.reik@babraham.ac.uk seirian.sumner@bristol.ac.uk.
2
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), 08003 Barcelona, Spain;
3
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TQ, United Kingdom;
4
The Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB22 3AT, United Kingdom; Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Science for Life Laboratory, Stockholm University, Stockholm 106 91, Sweden;
5
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal; Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology, University of Porto, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal;
6
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom; Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom;
7
Institute of Biochemistry, University of Stuttgart, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany;
8
The Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB22 3AT, United Kingdom;
9
Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1EW, United Kingdom; Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 ORE, United Kingdom;
10
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, 14195 Berlin, Germany;
11
Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP)-Universidade de São Paulo, 14040-901, Ribeirão Preto-SP, Brazil;
12
Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1EW, United Kingdom; Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 ORE, United Kingdom; School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, CB2 0SP, Cambridge, United Kingdom;
13
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, 08010 Barcelona, Spain;
14
School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, BS8 1TQ, United Kingdom;
15
Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), 08003 Barcelona, Spain; Department of Biotechnology, Universität für Bodenkultur, 1190 Vienna, Austria;
16
Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QG, United Kingdom;
17
The Babraham Institute, Cambridge CB22 3AT, United Kingdom; Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EG, United Kingdom; Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton CB10 1SA, United Kingdom solenn.patalano@babraham.ac.uk wolf.reik@babraham.ac.uk seirian.sumner@bristol.ac.uk.
18
School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TQ, United Kingdom; Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom; solenn.patalano@babraham.ac.uk wolf.reik@babraham.ac.uk seirian.sumner@bristol.ac.uk.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

DNA methylation; genome sequencing; phenotypic plasticity; social evolution; transcriptomes

PMID:
26483466
PMCID:
PMC4653166
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1515937112
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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