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Evolution and consequences of a social circulatory system

Thursday 29 October 2020, 1.00PM

Speaker(s): Adria LeBoeuf, University of Freibourg

Adria LeBoeuf will present her work.

Socially exchanged fluids, like seminal fluid and milk, present a direct and effective means through which an individual can influence conspecifics. Given the high stakes of behaviors wherein fluids are exchanged, the contents of these fluids can be subject to powerful selection pressures that can lead to novel functions. Many but not all species of social insects engage in the mouth-to-mouth social fluid exchange of trophallaxis. In species that perform frequent trophallaxis, each individual within the colony is connected through this network of fluid exchange, including larvae. In carpenter ants, we’ve shown that components endogenously present in trophallactic fluid can influence larval development. Furthermore, we find that some trophallactic fluid proteins have been co-opted from typical insect developmental pathways: as these proteins have become abundant in this social fluid, they show increasing signatures of adaptation such as repeated duplications and positive selection. Recent advances using long-term fluorescence imaging reveal how larval feeding through trophallaxis controls growth and developmental timing. Thus, in species that engage in this behavior, trophallaxis and trophallactic fluid present a means by which adults can regulate larval development according to the needs of the colony.

The seminar will be hosted using Zoom. A Google calendar invite featuring the Zoom link will be sent to Biology staff and students before the seminar date. For all enquiries please contact Biology DMT Hub.

Location: Zoom (online)