06. december 2012

ERC advanced grant: Attine Ant Symbiomes (ANTS). Clarifying the genomic mysteries of farming insect societies

Professor Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma, Department of Biology has received a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant to expand research on the evolution of ant societies in novel genomic directions

Professor Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma is Director of the Centre for Social Evolution, funded by ‘Danmarks Grundforskningsfond’ and located at the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15. He is also Head of the Section for Ecology and Evolution, which has other major research programs in biodiversity, macroecology, climate change biology, and animal behaviour.

The Centre for Social Evolution (CSE) seeks to answer fundamental questions about the evolution, development and maintenance of complex biological systems. Research uses ants and other social insects as models because they have evolved advanced societies without conscious planning or culture, starting more than 100 million years ago and solving challenges of division of labour, advanced communication, disease defense, and agriculture. Questions revolve around the ways in which conflicts of interest among society members have been resolved over evolutionary time.

The new ERC grant will fund a series of genomic, transcriptomic, methylomic and proteomic programs focused on a deeper understanding of the fungus-growing ants of Latin America. These insects have not only evolved some of the most impressive types of societies, but also practice advanced symbioses with food fungi and with bacteria that the ants maintain for antibiotics production and more efficient food processing. The new work will continue to be done with collaborators in Perth Australia, The Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC and Panama), BGI-Shenzhen, The University of Southern Denmark in Odense, and others.

Selection of earlier grants and honors of Jacobus Boomsma

  • C. & C. Huygens Award, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (1985-1990) funding postdoctoral research in Utrecht, Oxford and Cornell
  • Coordinator of two EU Research-Training Networks on Social Evolution (1996-2004), Aarhus and Copenhagen
  • Elected member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (1998)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Award (2001), Würzburg, Regensburg, Copenhagen
  • Danish Council for Independent Research: Center Grant (2002-2005), Copenhagen
  • Danish National Research Foundation: Center for Social Evolution (2005-2015), Copenhagen
  • Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Helsinki (2010)