I created a video about a project on slavemaking ants on which I have worked with Tobias Pamminger, Susanne Foitzik and Dirk Metzler.
In this video, we talk about our research on slavemaking ants and their hosts (slaves). The slavemakers are of one species (P. americanus) and the hosts of another species (T. longispinosus). Host ants can be captured by the slavemaker ants, and these captured ants (slaves) normally work for the slavemaker queen. But recently, it was found that they sometimes kill slavemakers (Achenbach and Foitzik 2009 and Pamminger et al. 2013). It is unclear why the slaves do this, because they probably cannot reproduce.
The video is based on the paper: “Oh sister, where art thou? Indirect fitness benefit could maintain a host defense trait” by Tobias Pamminger, Susanne Foitzik, Dirk Metzler and myself, which can be found here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.0790. Earlier, I wrote a blog-post about this paper for Haldane’s Sieve.
See here (http://arxiv.org/abs/1303.3666) for a new manuscript on sweeps in HIV. This is work with Sergey Kryazhimskiy and John Wakeley.
The review paper on drug resistance in HIV which I wrote in the fall is now officially accepted for publication in Infectious Disease Reports. The preprint is on the Arxiv.
Together with Sarah Cobey (Harvard / U Chicago), Gabriel Perron (U. Ottawa) and Fredrik Inglis (ETH), I organize a symposium, “The Evolution and Genetics of Drug Resistance,” at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB) meeting this August. The ESEB meeting is the largest European conference on evolution and takes place every two years. This summer it will be held in Lisbon (https://www.eseb2013.com/). Approximately 1400 people are expected to attend.
There is general consensus that the evolution of drug resistance is an interesting scientific topic and an important public health issue. We are very happy & proud that this year there will be a symposium dedicated to this theme at ESEB. We have invited two great invited speakers, Cally Roper and Craig MacLean. Dr. Roper works on drug resistance in malaria, including its evolution and its global distribution. Dr. MacLean has researched the evolutionary genetics of antibiotic resistance in the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The deadline for abstracts is February 28th. To submit your abstract, please first register at https://www.eseb2013.com/ and then upload your abstract to the site.
The four of us will evaluate the abstracts in a blinded way, so that we will not know whose abstract we are judging. The total amount of time allocated for our symposium depends in part on the number of abstracts received. More submissions will ensure an interesting and lively session. We welcome studies that are based on theory, data analysis, experiment, and/or clinical research.
We hope to see you this summer in Lisbon (which, by the way, is a great city to visit)!
Symposium Description: The Evolution and Genetics of Drug Resistance
The evolution of drug resistance in pathogenic microorganisms is one of the most important challenges facing evolutionary biologists. Evolutionary studies of drug resistance can aid the development of effective clinical strategies. At the same time, such studies help further our general understanding of evolutionary biology. Our symposium provides a venue to discuss experimental and theoretical studies that improve basic understanding and/or inform clinical practice.
Tobias Pamminger, Susanne Foitzik, Dirk Metzler and I analyzed the small scale spatial structure of ants of the species Temnothorax longispinosus. These ants are the host of a slavemaking ant. The slavemakers go on raids, and steal young from the host species to work as slaves in their nests. We wanted to know whether the slaves still have relatives in the nearby nests. If they do, then their behavior – which influences the slavemakers – could have an effect on their relatives and therefore on their indirect fitness.
To find out if slaves are related to their neighbours, we collected lots of ant nests (they nest in acorns), both in New York and in West Virginia, marked exactly where we found them and genotyped them at six microsatellites.
Photograph by Andreas Gros
Temnothorax longispinosus in acorn
We put little flags at the exact location of an ant nest to measure the distances between the nests.
This is one of the figures from the manuscript. Plot R (from West Virginia) is is shown to demonstrate the distribution of colonies within a plot and to show the distribution of alleles of one of the six microsatellite loci (GT1) among colonies. Each colony is represented by a pie-diagram with the frequencies of different GT1 alleles amongst the genotyped individuals of the colony. R3 is a slavemaker nest (we genotyped the slaves, not the slavemakers) and shares most of its alleles with the free nest R7. R13 and R15 are free living host colonies in close proximity and appear to be related.
Our main conclusion is that the enslaved ants are indeed related to their neighbors. The manuscript can be found on the arXiv here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.0790
The manuscript was peer-reviewed at Peerage of Science, a new and very useful community of scientists who agree to review each others papers fairly. See http://www.peerageofscience.org/
The manuscript is part of Tobias Pamminger’s PhD thesis. Tobias defends his thesis this week in Mainz!! Congrats Tobias!
Tobias came up with the awesome title for the paper “Oh sister, where art thou? Indirect fitness benefit could maintain a host defense trait.”
I am happy to announce that I have joined Dmitri Petrov’s lab at Stanford. Dmitri has a lively group and they do very nice evolutionary work. One of my favorite recent papers from this group is on a soft sweep at an insecticide resistance locus in fruitflies (I admit that I may be somewhat biased – but who can resist the combination of a soft sweep and a resistance locus?).
I spent the last two years in John Wakeley’s group at Harvard, which I enjoyed a lot. I will miss the great people I met there, but not the Boston winter!