Meeting Abstract

S8-2.2  Friday, Jan. 6  The making of a social insect - Genetics of Social Design AMDAM, GV; Arizona State University

How do complex social systems evolve? What are the evolutionary and developmental building blocks of division of labor and specialization, the hallmarks of insect societies? In solitary insects, shifts during life history between reproductively active and inactive states are associated with widespread changes in physiology and behavior. In advanced social honey bees, variation in similar physiology is linked to behavioral variation between workers, which are functionally sterile helper females. We suggest that worker behaviors evolved via modifications of gene and hormonal networks that can control reproductive states. This view is summarized in our reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution, which explains how worker division of labor and behavioral specialization can emerge from solitary regulatory networks.