Projects

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The Research Unit FOR2281 with all projects of Phase I and II is funded by the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) DFG.

https://www.dfg.de/en/index.jsp


PROJECTS PHASE II

Our Research Unit FOR2281, which we nicknamed the "So-Long" project, includes two project phases. The currently ongoing Phase II comprises eleven projects.
So-Long Concept Phase II
Results of Phase I suggested that convergent evolution at the phenotypic level was accomplished by different molecular changes across social species but along the same pathways. During Phase II we will explore and synthesize these results in more detail.
Phase II has three foci: The projects of Focus A ‘Synthesis’ will undertake comparative studies and analyses to obtain an overarching view of the general and idiosyncratic mechanisms of the reshaping of the fecundity/longevity trade-off. Within Focus B ‘Regulators’, projects will perform functional experiments and in-depth analyses to reveal the pathways and networks and their re-wiring, underlying the reshaping of the fecundity/longevity trade-off using selected species. The projects of Focus C ‘Transitions’ will comparatively study ageing and the reshaping of the fecundity/longevity trade-off along multiple social transitions within bees, ants, and termites to uncover how and why sociality changed the trade-off.
Combined, we aim at gaining fundamental insights into the mechanisms and causes of ageing and sociality. By uncovering the basis of the apparent escape from the commonfecundity/longevity trade-off, we expect to understand better the fundamental biological rules governing fecundity, longevity,senescence, and health. We use state-of-the-art methods and techniques for data analyses, and use transcriptome (RNA-Seq) data paired-end sequenced on Illumina HiSeq XTen platforms.

SOME IMPRESSIONS


All photos were taken by So-Long members or collaborators between 2015-2020.


TPZ: CORE PROJECT
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Judith Korb, Florentine Schaub, Dr. Karen Meusemann in collaboration with all projects, comparative analyses of Focus C


FOCUS A: SYNTHESIS

TP01: DIFFERENTIAL REGULATION OF GENES, ISOFORMS AND NETWORKS DURING AGEING IN SOCIAL INSECTS
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Erich Bornberg-Bauer, Collaborator: Dr. Mark Harrison

TP02: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF AGEING IN FLIES AND BEES
Contributors: Dr. Claudia Fricke, Daniel Pritchard, Collaborator: Dr. Eckhart Stolle

TP03: TOWARDS TESTABLE QUANTITATIVE MODELS FOR THE EVOLUTION OF CASTE SPECIFIC AGEING PART II: INTEGRATING THEORY AND EXPERIMENT
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Franjo Weissing, Prof. Dr. Ido Pen, Dr. G. Sander van Doorn, Dr. Boris Kramer


FOCUS B: REGULATORS

TP04: THE FECUNDITY/LONGEVITY TRADE-OFF IN A CLONAL ANT
Contributors: Dr. Abel Bernadou

TP05: DEFYING SENESCENCE – THE CAUSES OF DEATH AND THE COSTS OF LIVING OF ANT QUEENS
Contributors: PD Dr. Jan Oettler, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Heinze, Luida Jaimes Nino

TP06: FUNCTIONAL BASIS OF THE FECUNDITY - LONGEVITY REVERSAL IN THE ANT TEMNOTHORAX RUGATULUS
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik, Dr. Barbara Feldmeyer, Marina Choppin

TP07: UNCOVERING THE FUNCTIONAL BASIS OF THE REVERSAL OF THE FECUNDITY/LONGEVITY TRADE-OFF IN A TERMITE
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Judith Korb, Veronika Rau


FOCUS B: TRANSITIONS

TP08: A COMPARATIVE APPROACH TO THE FECUNDITY/LONGEVITY TRADE-OFF ACROSS TWO ORIGINS OF EUSOCIALITY IN THE BEES
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Robert Paxton, Andreia Teixeira, collaborating with Dr. Karen Meusemann

TP09: REVERSAL OF THE FECUNDITY/LONGEVITY TRADE-OFF ACROSS SOCIAL TRANSITIONS IN ANTS
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik, Dr. Volker Nehring, Dr. Romain Libbrecht, Megha Majoe

TP10: WHY AND HOW DOES SOCIALITY CHANGE THE FECUNDITY/LONGEVITY TRADE_OFF IN TERMITES?
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Judith Korb, Prof. Dr. Ido Pen, Silu Lin


PROJECTS PHASE I

Phase I of the Research Unit comprised twelve projects. Nine projects focused on specific organisms and three projects performed comparative analyses. In addition, several joint projects were associated. We studied ageing from an ultimate and proximate perspective, covering three lineages of social insects (ants, bees, and termites) and using Drosophila melanogaster as a solitary control.
Outcome: Our initiative allowed us < among specific results - to develop the first evolutionary ageing models tailored to social insects which identified crucial variables for explaining queen longevity. Additionally, we developed standardized tools and approaches and we found promising cross-taxon candidate genes and pathways associated with ageing and the reversal of the fecundity/longevity trade-off. Transcriptome paired-end sequencing (RNA-Seq) was done on Illumina HiSeq 4000 platforms.


STUDIES FOCUSING ON SPECIFIC ORGANISMS

  • Remoulding of the fecundity/longevity trade-off in a fungus-growing termite
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Judith Korb, Daniel Elsner
  • The fecundity/longevity trade-off in a clonal ant
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Heinze, Dr. Abel Bernadou
  • Fecundity/longevity reversal in a social insect with alternative reproductive strategies
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik, Dr. Barbara Feldmeyer, Matteo Negroni
  • The genomic tool box to transform a short-lived social bee into a long-lived parasite
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Robin Moritz, Denise Aumer
  • Phenotypic plasticity and the fecundity/longevity trade-off: investigating the underlying genetic basis in an orchid bee at the cusp of sociality
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Robert Paxton, Alice Séguret
  • The physiological and metabolic basis of the fecundity/longevity trade-off in Drosophila
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Thomas Flatt, Marisa Rodrigues

COMPARATIVE ANALYSES

  • Comparative analysis of the fecundity/longevity trade-off in social insects: Convergent evolution of longevity in eusocial cockroaches and Hymenoptera
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Erich Bornberg-Bauer, Dr. Mark Harrison
  • Comparative transcriptome analyses of the fecundity/longevity trade-off in social insects
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Judith Korb, Florentine Schaub, Dr. Karen Meusemann in collaboration with all projects
  • Towards a quantitative evolutionary theory of caste specific ageing
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Franjo Weissing, Prof. Dr. Ido Pen, Dr. G. Sander van Doorn, Dr. Boris Kramer in collaboration with TP01, TPZ, and all project focusing on a (model) organism.