Understanding the evolution of animal societies, considered to be a major transition in evolution, is a key topic in evolutionary biology. Recently, new gateways for understanding social evolution have opened up due to advances in genomics, allowing for unprecedented opportunities in studying social behavior on a molecular level. In particular, highly eusocial insect species (caste-containing societies with nonreproductives that care for siblings) have taken center stage in studies of the molecular evolution of sociality. Despite advances in genomic studies of both solitary and eusocial insects, we still lack genomic resources for early insect societies. To study the genetic basis of social traits requires comparison of genomes from a diversity of organisms ranging from solitary to complex social forms. Here we present the genome of a subsocial bee, Ceratina calcarata This study begins to address the types of genomic changes associated with the earliest origins of simple sociality using the small carpenter bee. Genes associated with lipid transport and DNA recombination have undergone positive selection in C. calcarata relative to other bee lineages. Furthermore, we provide the first methylome of a noneusocial bee. Ceratina calcarata contains the complete enzymatic toolkit for DNA methylation. As in the honey bee and many other holometabolous insects, DNA methylation is targeted to exons. The addition of this genome allows for new lines of research into the genetic and epigenetic precursors to complex social behaviors.
Keywords: epigenetics; insect genome; maternal care; small carpenter bee; social evolution.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.