Vitellogenin and vitellogenin-like gene expression patterns in relation to caste and task in the ant Formica fusca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Social insect colonies are characterized by division of labour, and extensive morphological, physiological and behavioural differences between queens and workers. The storage protein vitellogenin (Vg) affects multiple aspects of social insect life histories, and has been suggested as a key player for caste differentiation and maintenance. Recently, three genes homologous to Vg have been described in the ant Formica exsecta. Their role is currently unclear but their structural variation suggests variable functions. We examined the expression patterns of the conventional Vg and the three Vg-like genes using qRT-PCR in the common black ant Formica fusca between queens and workers, between nurse and foragers workers, and across social contexts (queenless vs. queenright nests), and sampling time. As expected, we found a significant queen caste and nurse task-related increase for the conventional Vg, while Vg-like-C displayed a consistent forager-biased expression pattern. Task (forager vs. nurse) was the only factor that explained expression variation among workers in any of the studied genes. The removal of the queen did not affect expression, although the proportion of fertile nurses increased in queenless nests. The observed expression biases suggest that in Formica fusca, the ancestral duplication has led to alternative social functions for Vg-like genes across castes and tasks. To get a broader picture of the role of gene duplications in social evolution and the roles of Vg-like genes in caste differentiation and maintenance, how these genes achieve these roles at a molecular level need to be investigated further.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInsectes Sociaux
ISSN1420-9098
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology

Cite this

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title = "Vitellogenin and vitellogenin-like gene expression patterns in relation to caste and task in the ant Formica fusca",
abstract = "Social insect colonies are characterized by division of labour, and extensive morphological, physiological and behavioural differences between queens and workers. The storage protein vitellogenin (Vg) affects multiple aspects of social insect life histories, and has been suggested as a key player for caste differentiation and maintenance. Recently, three genes homologous to Vg have been described in the ant Formica exsecta. Their role is currently unclear but their structural variation suggests variable functions. We examined the expression patterns of the conventional Vg and the three Vg-like genes using qRT-PCR in the common black ant Formica fusca between queens and workers, between nurse and foragers workers, and across social contexts (queenless vs. queenright nests), and sampling time. As expected, we found a significant queen caste and nurse task-related increase for the conventional Vg, while Vg-like-C displayed a consistent forager-biased expression pattern. Task (forager vs. nurse) was the only factor that explained expression variation among workers in any of the studied genes. The removal of the queen did not affect expression, although the proportion of fertile nurses increased in queenless nests. The observed expression biases suggest that in Formica fusca, the ancestral duplication has led to alternative social functions for Vg-like genes across castes and tasks. To get a broader picture of the role of gene duplications in social evolution and the roles of Vg-like genes in caste differentiation and maintenance, how these genes achieve these roles at a molecular level need to be investigated further.",
keywords = "1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology",
author = "C. Morandin and A. Hietala and H. Helanter{\"a}",
year = "2019",
month = "9",
day = "25",
doi = "10.1007/s00040-019-00725-9",
language = "English",
journal = "Insectes Sociaux",
issn = "0020-1812",
publisher = "SPRINGER BASEL AG",

}

Vitellogenin and vitellogenin-like gene expression patterns in relation to caste and task in the ant Formica fusca. / Morandin, C.; Hietala, A.; Helanterä, H.

In: Insectes Sociaux, 25.09.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Vitellogenin and vitellogenin-like gene expression patterns in relation to caste and task in the ant Formica fusca

AU - Morandin, C.

AU - Hietala, A.

AU - Helanterä, H.

PY - 2019/9/25

Y1 - 2019/9/25

N2 - Social insect colonies are characterized by division of labour, and extensive morphological, physiological and behavioural differences between queens and workers. The storage protein vitellogenin (Vg) affects multiple aspects of social insect life histories, and has been suggested as a key player for caste differentiation and maintenance. Recently, three genes homologous to Vg have been described in the ant Formica exsecta. Their role is currently unclear but their structural variation suggests variable functions. We examined the expression patterns of the conventional Vg and the three Vg-like genes using qRT-PCR in the common black ant Formica fusca between queens and workers, between nurse and foragers workers, and across social contexts (queenless vs. queenright nests), and sampling time. As expected, we found a significant queen caste and nurse task-related increase for the conventional Vg, while Vg-like-C displayed a consistent forager-biased expression pattern. Task (forager vs. nurse) was the only factor that explained expression variation among workers in any of the studied genes. The removal of the queen did not affect expression, although the proportion of fertile nurses increased in queenless nests. The observed expression biases suggest that in Formica fusca, the ancestral duplication has led to alternative social functions for Vg-like genes across castes and tasks. To get a broader picture of the role of gene duplications in social evolution and the roles of Vg-like genes in caste differentiation and maintenance, how these genes achieve these roles at a molecular level need to be investigated further.

AB - Social insect colonies are characterized by division of labour, and extensive morphological, physiological and behavioural differences between queens and workers. The storage protein vitellogenin (Vg) affects multiple aspects of social insect life histories, and has been suggested as a key player for caste differentiation and maintenance. Recently, three genes homologous to Vg have been described in the ant Formica exsecta. Their role is currently unclear but their structural variation suggests variable functions. We examined the expression patterns of the conventional Vg and the three Vg-like genes using qRT-PCR in the common black ant Formica fusca between queens and workers, between nurse and foragers workers, and across social contexts (queenless vs. queenright nests), and sampling time. As expected, we found a significant queen caste and nurse task-related increase for the conventional Vg, while Vg-like-C displayed a consistent forager-biased expression pattern. Task (forager vs. nurse) was the only factor that explained expression variation among workers in any of the studied genes. The removal of the queen did not affect expression, although the proportion of fertile nurses increased in queenless nests. The observed expression biases suggest that in Formica fusca, the ancestral duplication has led to alternative social functions for Vg-like genes across castes and tasks. To get a broader picture of the role of gene duplications in social evolution and the roles of Vg-like genes in caste differentiation and maintenance, how these genes achieve these roles at a molecular level need to be investigated further.

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