Mar 31, 2020

Specialisation and plasticity in a primitively social insect

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
S. PatalanoSteffen Rulands


Biological systems not only have the remarkable capacity to build and maintain complex spatio-temporal structures in noisy environments, they can also rapidly break up and rebuild such structures. How such systems can simultaneously achieve both robust specialisation and plasticity is poorly understood. Here we use primitive societies of Polistes wasps as a model system where we experimentally perturb the social structure by removing the queen and follow the re-establishment of the social steady state over time. We combine a unique experimental strategy correlating time-resolved measurements across vastly different scales with a theoretical approach. We show that Polistes integrates antagonistic processes on multiple scales to distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic perturbations and thereby achieve both robust specialisation and rapid plasticity. The long-term stability of the social structure relies on dynamic DNA methylation which controls transcriptional noise. Such dynamics provide a general principle of how both specialization and plasticity can be achieved in biological systems.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Genome-Wide Association Study
Quantitative Trait Loci
Contact - HL7 Attribution
Nucleic Acid Sequencing
Gene Expression
Base Sequence
Quantitative Trait Loci Genes

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