ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Genes for jobs

Multiple genes are expressed at different levels in worker and soldier termites

Tudor Toma(t.toma@imperial.ac.uk)

Lower termites of the genus Reticulitermes are social insects that show a dramatic polyphenism (the occurrence of multiple forms in a species on the basis of differential gene expression). This polyphenism is marked both in association with caste differentiation and between castes following differentiation, but the molecular mechanisms that underlie termite differentiation and development have been poorly understood. In the September 26 Genome Biology—published by BioMed Central, a sister company of The Scientist—Michael E. Scharf and colleagues at Purdue University show differential expression of 25 genes involved in regulatory, structural, and enzymatic processes involved in determining termite castes and their developmental precursor stages (Genome Biology, 4:R62, September 26, 2003).

Scharf et al. used cDNA macroarrays to compare gene expression between polyphenic castes and intermediary developmental stages in the termite R. flavipes. The authors observed worker and nymph-biased expression of transcripts encoding termite and endosymbiont...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT