Amir's paper on social chromosome ORs published

Amir's study of the odorant receptors (ORs) on the fire ant social chromosome was published in Genome Biology and Evolution:

We discovered a cluster of 23 ORs in the supergene that determines the social form of Solenopsis invicta colonies. Many of these genes are the results of recent duplications in the fire ant lineage. Most strikingly, two of them were deleted in the Sb haplotype (th variant found in polygyne colonies). This is the most dramatic mutation discovered to date, which differentiates the Sb and the SB haplotypes. This makes these genes great candidates for explaining the difference between the two social forms, especially the discrimination of queen genotypes based on olfactory cues.

IUSSI conference in Brazil

This year we had the most important meeting for ant researchers - the international conference of the IUSSI that takes place only once every four years. This time the conference was hosted by the Brazilian section of IUSSI. We met with many hundreds of social insect researchers in a very nice seaside resort close to São Paulo. Pnina and Eyal represented the lab, and presented results on the population genomic study of Solenopsis fire ants (by Pnina), the behavioral/genetic study of social information transfer in tandem running ants (by Daphna), and the evolutionary study of the Juvenile Hormone Esterases in trophallaxis fluid (by Amir in collaboration with Adria LeBoeuf). There was lots of great social insect science and lots of interactions with colleagues and friends, for both collaboration and fun!

Here are some great photos (by Pnina, of course) of some amazing Brazilian ants from that region:

Minerva School on Sociogenomics

We organized a German-Israeli Minerva School on "New Frontiers in Sociobiology and Sociogenomics" together with Guy Bloch from the Hebrew University, Juergen Gadau from the University of Muenster, and Judith Korb from the University of Freiburg. The School was held in beautiful Hagoshrim in northern Israel for a whole week. Ten German and ten Israeli grad students and postdocs attended the school, which was taught by lecturers from Germany and Israel - see the School's website.

(Juergen is unfortunately missing in this photo - he took it!)