Gene expression and the evolution of phenotypic diversity in social wasps

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dc.contributor.author Hoffman, Eric A. en_US
dc.contributor.author Goodisman, Michael A. D. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2009-12-10T20:55:18Z
dc.date.available 2009-12-10T20:55:18Z
dc.date.issued 2007-05-15
dc.identifier.citation Eric A. Hoffman and Michael A. D. Goodisman, "Gene expression and the evolution of phenotypic diversity in social wasps," BMC Biology (2007) 5:23 en
dc.identifier.issn 1741-7007
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1853/31359
dc.description © 2007 Hoffman and Goodisman; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/5/23 en
dc.description DOI: 10.1186/1741-7007-5-23
dc.description.abstract Background: Organisms are capable of developing different phenotypes by altering the genes they express. This phenotypic plasticity provides a means for species to respond effectively to environmental conditions. One of the most dramatic examples of phenotypic plasticity occurs in the highly social hymenopteran insects (ants, social bees, and social wasps), where distinct castes and sexes all arise from the same genes. To elucidate how variation in patterns of gene expression affects phenotypic variation, we conducted a study to simultaneously address the influence of developmental stage, sex, and caste on patterns of gene expression in Vespula wasps. Furthermore, we compared the patterns found in this species to those found in other taxa in order to investigate how variation in gene expression leads to phenotypic evolution. Results: We constructed 11 different cDNA libraries derived from various developmental stages and castes of Vespula squamosa. Comparisons of overall expression patterns indicated that geneexpression differences distinguishing developmental stages were greater than expression differences differentiating sex or caste. Furthermore, we determined that certain sets of genes showed similar patterns of expression in the same phenotypic forms of different species. Specifically, larvae upregulated genes related to metabolism and genes possessing structural activity. Surprisingly, our data indicated that at least a few specific gene functions and at least one specific gene family are important components of caste differentiation across social insect taxa. Conclusion: Despite research on various aspects of development originating from model systems, growth in understanding how development is related to phenotypic diversity relies on a growing literature of contrasting studies in non-model systems. In this study, we found that comparisons of patterns of gene expression with model systems highlighted areas of conserved and convergent developmental evolution across diverse taxa. Indeed, conserved biological functions across species implicated key functions related to how phenotypes are built. Finally, overall differences between social insect taxa suggest that the independent evolution of caste arose via distinct developmental trajectories. en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.publisher Georgia Institute of Technology en
dc.subject Phenotypic plasticity en
dc.subject Social insects en
dc.subject Hymenopteran insects en
dc.subject Vespula squamosa en
dc.subject Developmental trajectories en
dc.title Gene expression and the evolution of phenotypic diversity in social wasps en
dc.type Article en
dc.contributor.corporatename Georgia Institute of Technology. School of Biology en_US
dc.contributor.corporatename University of Central Florida. Dept. of Biology en_US
dc.publisher.original BioMed Central
dc.identifier.doi 10.1186/1741-7007-5-23


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