Grant: $500,000 - National Science Foundation - Jun. 19, 2009
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Award Description: The evolution of sociality is one of lifeâ€™s major transitions. In the highly social insect societies some individuals, the queens, specialize at reproduction while others, the workers, carry out all of the other tasks necessary for colony survival. This division of labor system is the very foundation social insect societies, which are among the most evolutionarily and ecologically successful animals on Earth. The primary objective of this project is to find and validate the genes primarily responsible for generating reproductive division of labor (castes) in an ant society. In Pogonomyrmex barbatus seed harvester ants the queens are over 3 times the size of workers (by mass), and primarily differ from workers in having well developed ovaries and wings. These dramatic differences in morphology and physiology arise as a result of differences in larval development. While in most social insects the developmental pathways leading to queens and workers result from differences in environmental factors, in some Pogonomyrmex populations they result from genetic differences (genetic caste determination, GCD). This unique mode of caste determination allows for the differentiation of queen- and worker-destined larvae prior to any observable differences in morphology (using genetic markers). Furthermore, the evolution of this system has necessitated the linkage of genes involved in the development of caste differences.
Project Description: We have started to sequence the genome. About 30% of the genome sequencing has been done and two undergraduate students have been hired to start the experiments looking into the expression differences in workers and queens.
Jobs Summary: Two undergraduate students have been hired to help conduct the experiments. Since the sequencing is done at an US company (SeqWright) in Houston/TX. We support the jobs in this high tech area. (Total jobs reported: 2)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jun. 19, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.