Shani & Pnina's paper on colony-level pool-seq GWAS published!

Shani and Pnina's paper was published in PLoS Computational Biology!

https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007653

This methodological study was actually a pilot for our GWAS of cuticular hydrocarbons. We wanted to optimize our genomic sequencing approach, in order to maximize the statistical power of GWAS for a colony-level trait. The results from this study can inform any GWAS in any social insect species of any colony-level trait. That is: a trait that is expressed at the level of the colony rather than the individual. E.g. social organization, foraging behavior, hygienic behavior, etc.

The figure below shows the expected power of GWAS depending on choices of methodology - check out the paper for details!

NSF-BSF grant - PhD/postdoc positions available!

Our lab received an NSF-BSF grant in collaboration with the lab of Deborah Gordon at Stanford!
We have advertised Ph.D. student and postdoc positions:

NSF-BSF funded positions for a Ph.D. student and a postdoc are available in the Privman lab at the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel. The lab studies evolutionary genomics of social behavior in ants, employing tools from population genomics, genomic mapping, and phylogenomics. Ongoing research includes several projects combining population sampling, behavioral experiments, chemical analysis of pheromones, genomic sequencing, and computational analysis (see http://privman.haifa.ac.il/).
 
The new positions will be funded by an NSF-BSF grant for a collaboration with the group of Prof. Deborah Gordon at Stanford University. The project aims to unravel the genomic basis of social evolution, focusing on foraging behavior in variable climate conditions. The successful candidates will work in collaboration with teammates from both labs, to contribute to any or all stages of the research, including behavioral and genomic surveys, laboratory procedures and computational analyses. The research plan includes genomic sequencing of hundreds of samples, population genomic and genomic mapping analyses. The genomic work will be conducted in Haifa, using a liquid handling robot for both DNA extraction and genomic library construction. The analysis of the genomic sequencing data will also be conducted in Haifa, using our high-performance computer cluster. Therefore, candidates should have experience and/or motivation to learn genomics and bioinformatics. All the necessary protocols and knowhow for both molecular lab and bioinformatics procedures are already well established in the Privman lab.
 
The Institute of Evolution offers a supportive, dynamic, diverse, multicultural and multilingual working environment. The Institute hosts research groups working on a diverse, interdisciplinary spectrum of topics in ecology and evolution (see http://evolution.haifa.ac.il/). Students will have access to leading researchers with expertise in ecology and evolution, population genetics, phylogenetics and molecular evolution, as well as genomics and bioinformatics, including genomic mapping. Professional training opportunities in these fields are available in the Institute, the University of Haifa, and in other Israeli institutes, including advanced courses, workshops and conferences. Although the common language in Israel is Hebrew, there are many foreign researchers and students in the Institute and all activities are conducted in English, including seminars, advanced courses, workshops and conferences. The Institute offers state-of-the-art facilities and professional support for molecular biology research in general and genomics in particular, as well as a high-performance computer cluster for bioinformatic analysis.
The application should include a cover letter with a short description of research experience, research interests, and why you are interested to join our lab, your CV, and the contact details of 2-3 referees.

Isaeli conference season

Our lab participated in the meeting of the Israel Zoological Society (in Jerusalem) and the first ever meeting of the Israeli Society of Evolutionary Biology (ISEB 2019, in Tel Aviv). Pnina gave a talk on reconstructing the evolutionary history of the fire ant social chromosome in ISEB and Eyal gave a talk on mapping genes for chemical communication (our QTL mapping study) in the zoological meeting.

It was especially nice to see the large community of evolutionary biologists in Israel come together for a very impressive conference, with two full days of three high-quality parallel session and five great plenary talks, including the wonderful Dan Graur. Eyal participated in the organization of the conference (check out the amazing website: https://sites.google.com/view/iseb2019/).

On the day of the day of the meeting, a whole show of "שלושה שיודעים" on כאן תרבות radio was dedicated to the conference, to evolutionary science in Israel, and to evolution in general. Eyal, Eran Tauber, and Lilach Hadany interviewed on the show, representing the organizing team. Check it out:

https://www.kan.org.il/Podcast/item.aspx?pid=15307

QTLs found! there is a genetic basis for nestmate recognition cues

We finally have the results from our genomic mapping of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC) in Cataglyphis niger, which are known to be the chemical cues used by the ants to recognize their nestmates. We found QTLs (quantitative trait loci), which means that there is a genetic basis for the differences in the CHC profiles of different colonies. This study was conducted primarily by Shani and Besan. Shani conducted the chemical and genetic analyses and Besan did the computational analysis for QTL mapping. In our sampling of monogyne colonies from Bezet Beach we found 117 drones in one nest (i.e. male brothers). Shani analyzed their CHCs by gas chromatography (GC), and sequenced their DNA using RAD-seq (a reduced representation genomics sequencing approach). The GC analysis identified 31 CHCs, and the RAD-seq identified 7769 SNPs. Besan analyzed these data using the programs MultiPoint and MultiQTL, with the guidance of our neighbor Abraham Korol who developed them and is THE expert on genomic mapping. First, Besan constructed a linkage map of the 26 chromosomes of C. niger using MultiPoint. Then she used MultiQTL and found 20 QTLs for eight CHCs (FDR < 10%):

We are now looking into the genes in the genomic regions defined by each QTL, using the new and improved genome assembly for C. niger (Pacbio sequencing via the GAGA Consortium).

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