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Press Release 11-019

Seeking Social Genes

Researchers compare insect genomes to hone in on genes associated with complex social structure

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Image showing a group of red harvester ants.

Sequencing the entire red harvester ant genome has revealed that, compared to other insects, the P. barbatus genome has significantly more genes associated with the sense of smell, as well as detection and metabolism of chemical signals. This is consistent with the fact that ants use chemical signals to communicate.

Credit: Herbert A. 'Joe' Pase III, Texas Forest Service, Bugwood.org; licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License


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Image of a red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus.

The genome of the red harvester ant, a social insect, was recently sequenced in an effort to understand the evolution of complex societies.

Credit: Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org; licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License


Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (177 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.