Posts Tagged ‘castes’

Histoire de Fourmis … suite: Ant Genomes

August 29th, 2010


Symbioses between plants and fungi, fungi and ants, and ants and plants all play important roles in ecosystems. For those interested by ant ecology and biology, and their interaction with plants, I would recommend reading the paper from Defossez et al. on Ant‐plants and fungi: a new threeway symbiosis‘ published on March 11, 2009 in the New Phytologist. For further ant reading go to the comparative genomics paper published by Bonasio et al. in the 27 August 2010 issue of Science. A collaborative research consortium involving scientists from the US and China report that they have sequenced the genomes of two ant species: Harpegnathos saltator, known as Jerdon’s jumping ant, and the Florida carpenter ant, Camponotus floridanus.

By comparing the genome structure and gene repertoire of the two ant species, and analyzing their transcriptome profiling in different castes, the team obtained clues about gene regulation and epigenetic processes underlying diverse physical and behavioral features in these ant species. They identified up-regulation of telomerase and sirtuin deacetylases in longer-lived H. saltator reproductives, caste-specific expression of microRNAs and SMYD histone methyltransferases, and differential regulation of genes implicated in neuronal function and chemical communication. Their findings provide clues on the molecular differences between castes in ants paving the way for further investigations on everything from brain function and behavior to aging.

Photo: Florida Carpenter Ant (by Alex Wild)