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Nat Ecol Evol. 2018 Mar;2(3):557-566. doi: 10.1038/s41559-017-0459-1. Epub 2018 Feb 5.

Hemimetabolous genomes reveal molecular basis of termite eusociality.

Author information

1
Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
2
Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.
3
Human Genome Sequencing Center, Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
4
USDA-ARS, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD, USA.
5
Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
6
Behavioral Biology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany.
7
Ecology and Evolution, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
8
Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Klosterneuburg, Austria.
9
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, CSIC-University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.
10
Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.
11
China National GeneBank, Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI)-Shenzhen, Shenzhen, China.
12
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, CSIC-University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain. xavier.belles@ibe.upf-csic.es.
13
Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. judith.korb@biologie.uni-freiburg.de.
14
Behavioral Biology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany. judith.korb@biologie.uni-freiburg.de.
15
Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. ebb@uni-muenster.de.

Abstract

Around 150 million years ago, eusocial termites evolved from within the cockroaches, 50 million years before eusocial Hymenoptera, such as bees and ants, appeared. Here, we report the 2-Gb genome of the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, and the 1.3-Gb genome of the drywood termite Cryptotermes secundus. We show evolutionary signatures of termite eusociality by comparing the genomes and transcriptomes of three termites and the cockroach against the background of 16 other eusocial and non-eusocial insects. Dramatic adaptive changes in genes underlying the production and perception of pheromones confirm the importance of chemical communication in the termites. These are accompanied by major changes in gene regulation and the molecular evolution of caste determination. Many of these results parallel molecular mechanisms of eusocial evolution in Hymenoptera. However, the specific solutions are remarkably different, thus revealing a striking case of convergence in one of the major evolutionary transitions in biological complexity.

PMID:
29403074
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-017-0459-1

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