Gene expression co-evolution between farming ants and farmed fungal crops
Background: Human farming became a sophisticated industrial process after our ancestors genetically improved the productivity of their crops during several thousand years of artificial selection and cultural evolution.
Leafcutter ants also practice farming at an industrial scale, but could only improve the efficiency of their farms by blind natural selection over time spans of millions of years.
Atta and Acromyrmex leafcutter ants in Panama appear to read genetically distinct lineages of clonal fungal crops, but the differences between them appear to be more substantial when we consider whole-genome transcriptomes than when we genotype them with neutral microsatellite markers.
This suggests that it matters which kind of ant farmers rear these crops and that Atta farmers switch on other crop genes than Acromyrmex farmers.
Several projects (from 7.5 to 60 ECTS) are available to answer questions like:
- Can we show differences in gene expression when we do controlled swaps of fungus gardens in the laboratory?
Competencies to be obtained: Ability to preform RNA-seq, PCR, RT-PCR, droplet digital PCR, RNA and DNA extraction and microsatellite marker assays
|Anvendte metoder:||RNA-seq, PCR, RT-PCR, droplet digital PCR, RNA and DNA extraction, microsatellite marker assays|
|Keywords:||mutualistic synergy, transcriptomics, fungal metabolism, ant behaviour, Panama|
|Vejleder(e):||Jacobus J. Boomsma, Morten Schiøtt|