Social environment affects the transcriptomic response to bacteria in ant queens

L. Viljakainen, J. Jurvansuu, I. Holmberg, T. Pamminger, S. Erler, S. Cremer, Ecology and Evolution 8 (2018) 11031–11070.

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Abstract
Social insects have evolved enormous capacities to collectively build nests and defend their colonies against both predators and pathogens. The latter is achieved by a combination of individual immune responses and sophisticated collective behavioral and organizational disease defenses, that is, social immunity. We investigated how the presence or absence of these social defense lines affects individual-level immunity in ant queens after bacterial infection. To this end, we injected queens of the ant Linepithema humile with a mix of gram+ and gram− bacteria or a control solution, reared them either with workers or alone and analyzed their gene expression patterns at 2, 4, 8, and 12 hr post-injection, using RNA-seq. This allowed us to test for the effect of bacterial infection, social context, as well as the interaction between the two over the course of infection and raising of an immune response. We found that social isolation per se affected queen gene expression for metabolism genes, but not for immune genes. When infected, queens reared with and without workers up-regulated similar numbers of innate immune genes revealing activation of Toll and Imd signaling pathways and melanization. Interestingly, however, they mostly regulated different genes along the pathways and showed a different pattern of overall gene up-regulation or down-regulation. Hence, we can conclude that the absence of workers does not compromise the onset of an individual immune response by the queens, but that the social environment impacts the route of the individual innate immune responses.
Publishing Year
Date Published
2018-11-01
Journal Title
Ecology and Evolution
Volume
8
Issue
22
Page
11031-11070
ISSN
IST-REx-ID

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Viljakainen L, Jurvansuu J, Holmberg I, Pamminger T, Erler S, Cremer S. Social environment affects the transcriptomic response to bacteria in ant queens. Ecology and Evolution. 2018;8(22):11031-11070. doi:10.1002/ece3.4573
Viljakainen, L., Jurvansuu, J., Holmberg, I., Pamminger, T., Erler, S., & Cremer, S. (2018). Social environment affects the transcriptomic response to bacteria in ant queens. Ecology and Evolution, 8(22), 11031–11070. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4573
Viljakainen, Lumi, Jaana Jurvansuu, Ida Holmberg, Tobias Pamminger, Silvio Erler, and Sylvia Cremer. “Social Environment Affects the Transcriptomic Response to Bacteria in Ant Queens.” Ecology and Evolution 8, no. 22 (2018): 11031–70. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4573.
L. Viljakainen, J. Jurvansuu, I. Holmberg, T. Pamminger, S. Erler, and S. Cremer, “Social environment affects the transcriptomic response to bacteria in ant queens,” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 8, no. 22, pp. 11031–11070, 2018.
Viljakainen L, Jurvansuu J, Holmberg I, Pamminger T, Erler S, Cremer S. 2018. Social environment affects the transcriptomic response to bacteria in ant queens. Ecology and Evolution. 8(22), 11031–11070.
Viljakainen, Lumi, et al. “Social Environment Affects the Transcriptomic Response to Bacteria in Ant Queens.” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 8, no. 22, Wiley, 2018, pp. 11031–70, doi:10.1002/ece3.4573.
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