Polyphenism in insects, whereby a single genome expresses different phenotypes in response to environmental cues, is a fascinating biological phenomenon. Social insects are especially intriguing examples of phenotypic plasticity because division of labor results in the development of extreme morphological phenotypes, such as the queen and worker castes. Although sociality evolved independently in ants, bees, wasps and termites, similar genetic pathways regulate phenotypic plasticity in these different groups of social insects. The insulin/insulin-like growth signaling (IIS) plays a key role in this process. Recent research reveals that IIS interacts with other pathways including target of rapamycin (TOR), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), juvenile hormone (JH) and vitellogenin (Vg) to regulate caste differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science