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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Insect Genetics and Biochemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #311450

Title: Genomic signatures of evolutionary transitions from solitary to group living

item KAPHEIM, KAREN - Utah State University
item PAN, HAILIN - University Of Illinois
item Yocum, George
item Kemp, William - Bill
item Evans, Jay
item ROBINSON, GENE - University Of Illinois
item ZHANG, GUOJIE - University Of Copenhagen

Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/6/2015
Publication Date: 6/5/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Kapheim, K.M., Pan, H., Yocum, G.D., Kemp, W.P., Evans, J.D., Robinson, G.E., Zhang, G., et. al. 2015. Genomic signatures of evolutionary transitions from solitary to group living. Science. 348(6239):1139-1143.

Interpretive Summary: The pollination services provided by various bee species contribute billions of dollars of value to American agriculture annually. These species have behavioral and physiological traits that range from solitary species where a single female construct the nest and provision the brood by herself, to the other end of the spectrum where species that exist in complex communities with cases, multiple generations within a colony, resource sharing, and means of communication. The mechanisms that enable the development of these traits and how they are maintained is poorly understood. To resolve these shortfalls in our understanding, the genomes of ten bee species were sequenced and compared. The increase in community complexity is associated with increase in specific gene families and regulatory factors. A clearer understanding of the mechanisms regulating these pollinators life history traits will aid in the development of improved management protocols.

Technical Abstract: Eusociality has evolved rarely, but repeatedly, in vertebrates and invertebrates, and resulted inconvergent morphological, physiological, and behavioural innovations. It is unknown whether similar evolutionary processes are responsible for the repeated origins and further elaborations of eusociality. We analysed genome sequences of ten bee species differing in social complexity and found common evolutionary processes underlying independent evolutions of eusociality, but with different genes involved in each instance. Increased social complexity was also associated with expansions of specific gene families, decreased transposable element diversity, gains in transcription factor binding sites, and increased DNA methylation. We also identified genes for which strength of positive, relaxed, or purifying selection increased with increasing social complexity. A dominant signature of eusociality is constrained protein evolution of neural- and endocrine-related genes and increasing potential for gene regulation. These results demonstrate that the evolution of different bee societies involve common evolutionary signatures, but often different genes.