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Old developmental pathways spawn revolutionary evolutionary changes
Date:9/7/2007

evealed how ancestral programs have been co-opted to promote the evolution of castes. Amdams group established for the first time how genetic pathways tied to reproductive and molecular signaling cascades that exist in solitary species may have been utilized to yield reproductive queens, and non-reproductive sisters, workers, in the social order of honey bees. In work published in the journal Public Library of Science One (PLoS One) in 2007, the researchers showed that a key regulator for caste fate was the ancestral protein kinase TOR (target of rapamycin), which had become the transducer of the signal determining if a honey bee larva grows to be worker or queen.

The fact that workers and queens can emerge from ancestral pathways in both complex and more primitive social insects helps us understand what evolution builds from when it produces seemingly radical new phenotypes, Amdam says.

Amdams innovative approaches with the use of social insect models led to her selection in June 2007 as a Biomedical Scholar by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Outstanding Young Researcher by the Research Council of Norway. The resulting $1.8 million in awards will fund her laboratories in ASUs College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the University of Life Science in Norway, and could potentially lead to new insights into human traits, such as aging, that have likely been molded by social evolution.


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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
Margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-787-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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