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Epigenetics and social insects

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Rahia Mashoodh.

Hymenopteran insects (ants, bees and wasps) are important emerging models for epigenetics. This is due to theoretical predictions for a role for genomic imprinting in their social organisation (e.g. worker reproduction) and on data showing a fundamental role for methylation in their biology.

I will discuss work we have done looking at the role of methylation in the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris. Hymenoptera offer the opportunity to independently test Haig’s kinship theory for the evolution of genomic imprinting. Haig’s theory makes very clear predictions about the genes controlling bumblebee reproduction, as bumblebees live in highly related colonies arising from a single diploid queen and a single haploid male. I will also detail work in our lab to establish a functional insect model of epigenetics, the jewel wasp, Nasonia vitripennis.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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