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Science. 2018 Jul 27;361(6400):398-402. doi: 10.1126/science.aar5723.

Social regulation of insulin signaling and the evolution of eusociality in ants.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Social Evolution and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA. vchandra@rockefeller.edu ifetter@rockefeller.edu dkronauer@rockefeller.edu.
2
Laboratory of Social Evolution and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
3
Samuel J. Wood Library, Weill Cornell Medicine, 1300 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
4
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Biophore Building, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
5
Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution, Johannes Gutenberg University, Johannes-von-Müller-Weg 6, 55128 Mainz, Germany.

Abstract

Queens and workers of eusocial Hymenoptera are considered homologous to the reproductive and brood care phases of an ancestral subsocial life cycle. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of reproductive division of labor remain obscure. Using a brain transcriptomics screen, we identified a single gene, insulin-like peptide 2 (ilp2), which is always up-regulated in ant reproductives, likely because they are better nourished than their nonreproductive nestmates. In clonal raider ants (Ooceraea biroi), larval signals inhibit adult reproduction by suppressing ilp2, thus producing a colony reproductive cycle reminiscent of ancestral subsociality. However, increasing ILP2 peptide levels overrides larval suppression, thereby breaking the colony cycle and inducing a stable division of labor. These findings suggest a simple model for the origin of ant eusociality via nutritionally determined reproductive asymmetries potentially amplified by larval signals.

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PMID:
30049879
PMCID:
PMC6178808
DOI:
10.1126/science.aar5723
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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