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Secrets to a successful hunt: integrating genomes, chemistry and behaviour in neotropical solitary wasps

Grant number: 21/03040-0
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: September 01, 2021 - August 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Animal Behavior
Cooperation agreement: NERC, UKRI
Principal researcher:Fábio Santos do Nascimento
Grantee:Fábio Santos do Nascimento
Principal researcher abroad: Seirian Sumner
Institution abroad: University College London (UCL), England
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Cintia Akemi Oi ; Marco Antonio Del Lama
Associated research grant:18/10996-0 - An Evo-Devo perspective on reproductive division of labour in wasps, AP.R


Social insects exemplify a major transition in evolution and show how cooperative organisms can reach higher levels of social organization. We want to gain a deeper understanding of the molecular regulation that drives the behavioural transitions in wasps. This project will integrate proximate mechanisms to the evolution of wasp sociality, by studying the ancestral origins of pre-social behaviour, and its importance at the very early stages of sociality. The molecular mechanisms underpinning the nest cycles in solitary species provide mechanistic basis for the evolution of division of labour in social wasps and progressive provisioning as a preadaptation to maternal care. We will use Brazilian solitary wasps to explore this molecular basis of behavioural and evolutionary transitions. Based on the genome, transcriptome, and chemosensory machinery, we will compare genomic traits of mass and progressive provisioning and test the hypothesis that progressive provisioning is a precursor to maternal care. Specifically, we predict that the molecular processes specific to progressive provisioning (as opposed to mass provisioning) will also be important in regulating foraging behaviour in eusocial species, especially those that represent the first stages of social evolution (e.g. Polistes). This project will provide new collaboration and will help to understand the ancestral origins of pre-social behaviour and how division of labour evolved and how is regulated. Brazilian team will provide the field sites and behavioral observations, know-how for chemical analyses and UK team provides expertise in molecular biology methods and bioinformatics. (AU)

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