Social species are among the most successful on the planet. I strive to bridge the gaps in our understanding of genomics, the evolution of eusocial species, and the adaptive value of their behaviours.
Widespread antibiotic usage in apiculture contributes substantially to the global dissemination of antimicrobial resistance and has the potential to negatively influence bacterial symbionts of honey bees (Apis mellifera). Here, we show that routine antibiotic administration with oxytetracycline selectively increased tetB (efflux pump resistance gene) abundance in the gut microbiota of adult workers while concurrently depleting several key symbionts known to regulate immune function and nutrient metabolism such as Frischella perrera and Lactobacillus Firm-5 strains.
The highly organized societies of the Western honey bee Apis mellifera feature a highly reproductive queen at the center of attention and a large cohort of daughters that suppress their own reproduction to help rear more sisters, some of whom become queens themselves. This reproductive altruism is peculiar because in theory it evolves via indirect selection on genes for altruism that are expressed in the sterile workers but not in the reproductive queens. In this study we attempt to situate lists of genes previously implicated in queenright worker sterility into a broader regulatory framework.
The process of caste differentiation is central to understanding insect sociality, because it is task specialization that enables division of labor within eusocial colonies. Selection presumably favors colonies that can adjust their division of labor in response to changing environmental demands, and for many taxa genetic and epigenetic factors are an important part of this equation. In this entry, we provide a framework for understanding genetic and epigenetic effects on caste.