ESA Annual Meetings Online Program

0706 Undertaking behavior and its molecular basis in termites

Monday, November 14, 2011: 9:15 AM
Room D7, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Qian Sun , Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Xiangrui Li , Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Li Tian , Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Xuguo Zhou , Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Undertaking behavior is considered an essential activity in social insects and important for colony hygiene in enclosed nest. Unlike Hymenoptera social insects such as ants, in which undertakers remove dead colony members and place the carcasses in a refusal pile away from the nest, in this study, however, a lower termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, showed distinctively different undertaking behaviors toward dead termite workers from different origins. Corpses from alien species R. virginicus were buried outside of the nest, while dead termites from R. flavipes, regardless of their colony origins (KY or OH), were pulled back into the nest. Brain transcriptome libraries from three lower termite species including R. flavipes, R. virginicus, and Coptotermes formosanus were established, and a suite of behavior-related genes were identified from R. flavipes bioinformatically. The genetic underpinnings governing the undertaking behaviors toward deceased termites from inter- and intra-species are investigated using both combination of chemical ecology and molecular biological tools. This study is a part of our efforts to gain a better understanding of the evolution of eusociality in termites using genes with social contents.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.59232