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, 8 (9), 1940-1951

Higher Expression of Somatic Repair Genes in Long-Lived Ant Queens Than Workers


Higher Expression of Somatic Repair Genes in Long-Lived Ant Queens Than Workers

Eric R Lucas et al. Aging (Albany NY).


Understanding why organisms senesce is a fundamental question in biology. One common explanation is that senescence results from an increase in macromolecular damage with age. The tremendous variation in lifespan between genetically identical queen and worker ants, ranging over an order of magnitude, provides a unique system to study how investment into processes of somatic maintenance and macromolecular repair influence lifespan. Here we use RNAseq to compare patterns of expression of genes involved in DNA and protein repair of age-matched queens and workers. There was no difference between queens and workers in 1-day-old individuals, but the level of expression of these genes increased with age and this up-regulation was greater in queens than in workers, resulting in significantly queen-biased expression in 2-month-old individuals in both legs and brains. Overall, these differences are consistent with the hypothesis that higher longevity is associated with increased investment into somatic repair.

Keywords: ageing; gene expression; lifespan; social insects; somatic maintenance.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Position of our set of somatic repair genes in a ranked list of all isogroups
The horizontal line represents the list of isogroups, ranked according the their significance in bias towards queens or workers, with isogroups in the middle showing relatively unbiased expression. Each vertical bar represents the position of one of our candidate genes. The P-values were generated by the GSEA analysis and represent a test of the null hypothesis that the blue bars are randomly distributes along the black line. (a) RNA extracted from brains of 1-day-old individuals. (b) RNA extracted from the brains of 2-month-old individuals. (c) RNA extracted from legs of 1-day-old individuals. (d) RNA extracted from legs of 2-month-old individuals.

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