Cryptic plasticity underlies a major evolutionary transition

Field, Jeremy, Paxton, Robert J., Soro, Antonella and Bridge, Catherine (2010) Cryptic plasticity underlies a major evolutionary transition. Current Biology, 20 (22). pp. 2028-2031. ISSN 0960-9822

Full text not available from this repository.


The origin of eusociality is often regarded as a change of macroevolutionary proportions [[1] and [2]]. Its hallmark is a reproductive division of labor between the members of a society: some individuals (¿helpers¿ or ¿workers¿) forfeit their own reproduction to rear offspring of others (¿queens¿). In the Hymenoptera (ants, bees, wasps), there have been many transitions in both directions between solitary nesting and sociality [[2], [3], [4] and [5]]. How have such transitions occurred? One possibility is that multiple transitions represent repeated evolutionary gains and losses of the traits underpinning sociality. A second possibility, however, is that once sociality has evolved, subsequent transitions represent selection at just one or a small number of loci controlling developmental switches between preexisting alternative phenotypes [[2] and [6]]. We might then expect transitional populations that can express either sociality or solitary nesting, depending on environmental conditions. Here, we use field transplants to directly induce transitions in British and Irish populations of the sweat bee Halictus rubicundus. Individual variation in social phenotype was linked to time available for offspring production, and to the genetic benefits of sociality, suggesting that helping was not simply misplaced parental care [7]. We thereby demonstrate that sociality itself can be truly plastic in a hymenopteran.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science
Depositing User: Jeremy Field
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:25
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2013 16:11
📧 Request an update