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!)

Rana's odorant receptor paper published

Rana's evolutionary study of the gene family of the odorant receptors (ORs) in ants was published in Genome Biology and Evolution! We found evidence for widespread positive selection following the extensive duplications of ORs in all ant lineages. Positively selected amino acid sites were especially concentrated around the putative ligand binding site, which indicates adaptive evolution of these receptors to recognize more diverse odors. We suggest that ant ORs evolved to recognize new and more diverse vocabulary of pheromones that they use for chemical communication.