How do identical genomes produce phenotypic and behavioural diversity?

cropped-DSC_0089.jpgSocial insects (bees, wasps, ants and termites) are great models for addressing this: a single genome can give rise to remarkably different phenotypes, in the form of queen and worker castes.  Such differences are underlain by differential expression of shared genes. We are exploring the molecular basis of social castes in a range of eusocial wasps and bees through genome sequencing, RNAseq transcriptomic analyses combined with field-based behavioural ecology.

Wasps, in particular, display incredible diversity, in life-history, sociality and hunting behaviour. What is the molecular machinery underpinning these traits, and how do these innovations evolve? We are sequencing lots of wasp genomes to address these questions. These data are revealing the genes underpinning different types of behaviours in solitary and social wasps. Read more about this here.