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A molecular concept of caste in insect societies

Sumner, S; Bell, E; Taylor, D; (2018) A molecular concept of caste in insect societies. Current Opinion in Insect Science , 25 pp. 42-50. 10.1016/j.cois.2017.11.010. Green open access

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Abstract

The term ‘caste’ is used to describe the division of reproductive labour that defines eusocial insect societies. The definition of ‘caste’ has been debated over the last 50 years, specifically with respect to the simplest insect societies; this raises the question of whether a simple categorisation of social behaviour by reproductive state alone is helpful. Gene-level analyses of behaviours of individuals in hymenopteran social insect societies now provide a new empirical base-line for defining caste and understanding the evolution and maintenance of a reproductive division of labour. We review this literature to identify a set of potential molecular signatures that, combined with behavioural, morphological and physiological data, help define caste more precisely; these signatures vary with the type of society, and are likely to be influenced by ecology, life-history, and stage in the colony cycle. We conclude that genomic approaches provide us with additional ways to help quantify and categorise caste, and behaviour in general.

Type: Article
Title: A molecular concept of caste in insect societies
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cois.2017.11.010
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2017.11.010
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Social evolution; Eusocial insects; Genomics; Phenotypic plasticity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10038425
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