Evolution and Molecular Regulation of Lifespan in Ants

The evolution of social insects has led to an extraordinary increase in lifespan, which can be several decades, especially in ant queens. Remarkably, they are also extremely fecund, so there seems to be no tradeoff between fecundity and longevity in ants. We investigate the evolution and molecular regulation of aging in the different castes of ants. For example, we demonstrated that fertility has a positive effect on lifespan in ant workers. Our transcriptome analyses identify important aging pathways including some which shifted during social evolution. Finally, I will report on a case where a cestode parasite increases lifespan in an ant host several folds and the molecular underpinnings of this parasite interference with host aging.

Speaker Information

Dr. Susanne Foitzik
Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany