GadauLab acquired a GC-MS/MS.

© GadauLab

The group of Prof. Jürgen Gadau just acquired a novel state-of-the-art GC-MS/MS (gas-chromatograph coupled with a triple quad MS system) instrument giving us the exciting opportunity to detect minute trace amounts of bioactive compounds beyond the hitherto existing detection limit for chemical ecology. We are looking forward to utilize the capabilities of the GC-MS/MS to its full potential and also invite anyone who is interested to collaborate with us on projects relating to chemical communication, recognition mechanisms and metabolomics.

Please contact Jan Buellesbach who will lead the collaborative research projects related to the GC-MS/MS

New paper by Bernadou et al.

© Bernadou et al.

Lukas Schrader co-authored a paper titled "Stress and early experience underlie dominance status and division of labour in a clonal insect".

"Cooperation and division of labour are fundamental in the ‘major transitions’ in evolution. While the factors regulating cell differentiation in multi-cellular organisms are quite well understood, we are just beginning to unveil the mechanisms underlying individual specialization in cooperative groups of animals. Clonal ants allow the study of which factors influence task allocation without confounding variation in genotype and morphology. Here, we subjected larvae and freshly hatched workers of the clonal ant Platythyrea
to different rearing conditions and investigated how these manipulations affected division of labour among pairs of oppositely treated, same-aged clonemates. High rearing temperature, physical stress, injury and malnutrition increased the propensity of individuals to become subordinate foragers rather than dominant reproductives. This is reflected in changed gene regulation: early stages of division of labour were associated with different expression of genes involved in nutrient signalling pathways, metabolism and the phenotypic response to environmental stimuli. Many of these genes appear to be capable of responding to a broad range of stressors. They might link environmental stimuli to behavioural and phenotypic changes and could therefore be more broadly involved in caste differentiation in social insects. Our experiments also shed light on the causes of behavioural variation among genetically identical individuals."

For the full paper click here.

New paper by Buellesbach et al.

Jan Buellesbach recently published a new paper on cuticular hydrocarbons and their potential role in sexual signaling and species discrimination cues in parasitoid wasps.

Here is an excerpt from the abstract:
"We found a surprising degree of either unspecific or insufficient sexual signaling when cuticular hydrocarbons are singled out as recognition cues. Most strikingly, the cosmopolitan species Nasonia vitripennis, expected to experience enhanced selection pressure to discriminate against other co-occurring parasitoids, did not discriminate against CHC of the phylogenetically distant species Trichomalopsis sarcophagae. Focusing on the latter species, in turn, it became apparent that CHC are even insufficient as the sole cue triggering sexual behavior, hinting at the requirement of additional, synergistic sexual cues particularly important in this species. Finally, in the phylogenetically and chemically most divergent species Muscidifurax uniraptor, we intriguingly found both CHC-based sexual signaling as well as species discrimination behavior intact although this species is naturally parthenogenetic with sexual reproduction only occurring under laboratory conditions."

For the full paper, click here.

Dhevi Kalyanaraman joins the GadauLab as a new PhD student!

© Dhevi Kalyanaraman

The GadauLab welcomes Dhevi Kalyanaraman into their fold! Dhevi will be part of the EvoPad research training group and will work under supervision of Jürgen Gadau on her PhD. For informations about Dhevis PhD project click here.

New review by Schrader & Schmitz on transposable elements

© Schrader & Schmitz

A new review by Lukas Schrader and Jürgen Schmitz was recently published on how transposable elements my lead to adaptive changes. The full paper is available here.

"The growing knowledge about the influence of transposable elements (TEs) on (a) long‐term genome and transcriptome evolution; (b) genomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic variation within populations; and (c) patterns of somatic genetic differences in individuals continues to spur the interest of evolutionary biologists in the role of TEs in adaptive evolution. As TEs can trigger a broad range of molecular variation in a population with potentially severe fitness and phenotypic consequences for individuals, different mechanisms evolved to keep TE activity in check, allowing for a dynamic interplay between the host, its TEs and the environment in evolution. Here, we review evidence for adaptive phenotypic changes associated with TEs and the basic molecular mechanisms by which the underlying genetic changes arise: (a) domestication, (b) exaptation, (c) host gene regulation, (d) TE‐mediated formation of intronless gene copies—so‐called retrogenes and (e) overall increased genome plasticity. Furthermore, we review and discuss how the stress‐dependent incapacitation of defence mechanisms against the activity of TEs might facilitate adaptive responses to environmental challenges and how such mechanisms might be particularly relevant in species frequently facing novel environments, such as invasive, pathogenic or parasitic species."

The picture shows the genome wide dispersion of transposons within the genome of C. obscuris (queen of C. obscuris pictured in the center).