Exploring gene regulatory differences between monogyne and polygyne alate gynes of the red imported fire ant solenopsis invicta
King, Joan Theresa
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Identifying the molecular basis of adaptation is a fundamental, but often challenging goal of evolutionary biology. Recently, a growing number of cases have been discovered where complex adaptive phenotypes are mediated by groups of tightly linked genes (supergenes). Solenopsis invicta possesses a supergene and is used as a model for the evolution of social behavior due to its polymorphism in colony social structure (two social forms: monogyne and polygyne). Previous studies have shown that many of the differentially expressed genes between the two social forms are within the supergene; however, many of these studies have been performed with whole-body samples and microarray analysis— which have limitations. By using specific tissues and RNA-Seq, it was found that genotype (supergene presence or absence) has a larger effect than colony social environment on gene expression in ovaries, and that colony social environment affects brain gene expression more than genotype.