Research interests



  • Chemical communication
  • Social evolution
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Social polymorphism

Scientific projects

Evolution of fertility signals in halictine bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae)

It is thought that in insects chemical communication is one major precondition for the evolution of sociality. Queen recognition by the means of so-called fertility signals has been shown to occur in many groups of eusocial insects. However, until now the chemical structure of these fertility signals was only characterized in a few species, though insights into the structural identity of fertility signals are crucial to understand the evolution of eusociality and colonial living in insects. Studying criteria accompanying with the evolution of fertility signals in highly eusocial insect taxa like termites, honeybees or ants, which exhibit a highly developed and complex form of eusociality, are complicated as their eusocial living is mainly obligate. Hence it seems to be more suitable to conduct comparative studies with closely related species which exhibit different social level. Halictine or sweat bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) are particularly suitable model organisms to study the evolution of sociality in insects as they show a high variability of social behavior ranging from primitive eusocial species to solitary ones including communal as well as socially polymorphic ones.

In this context my PhD thesis focuses on the evolution of fertility signals within different halictine bee species including socially polymorphic as well as primitively eusocial ones. By combining behavioral assays with chemical and genetic analyses, I intend to identify the chemical composition of fertility signals and the key genes which are involved in their biosynthetic pathways.

 

Conference contributions

Albrecht I, Ayasse M (2016) Always at your service, Your Majesty: Macrocyclic lactones elicit subordinate behavior in Lasioglossum malachurum workers. Chemoökologentreffen, Stuttgart, Germany (Talk)

Albrecht I, Ayasse M (2016) Always at your service, Your Majesty: Macrocyclic lactones elicit subordinate behavior in Lasioglossum malachurum workers. European Meeting of IUSSI, Helsinki, Finland (Talk)

Albrecht I, Ayasse M (2016) Always at your service, Your Majesty: Macrocyclic lactones elicit subordinate behavior in Lasioglossum malachurum workers. 12. Hymenopterologentagung, Stuttgart, Germany (Talk; award for best student talk)

Albrecht I, Paxton RJ, Ayasse M (2015) Function- and population-specific odor bouquets of the halictine bee Halictus rubicundus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) and the evolution of fertility signals. IV Central European Meeting of IUSSI 2015, Lichtenfels, Germany (Talk)

Albrecht I, Paxton RJ, Ayasse M (2015) Caste-and function-specific odor bouquets and the evolution of fertility signals in sweat bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). 108th annual meeting of the German Zoological Society, Graz, Austria. (Talk)

Albrecht I, Paxton RJ, Ayasse M (2014) Funktions- und populationsspezifische Duftbouquets der Furchenbienen Halictus rubicundus und Lasioglossum malachurum und die Evolution von Fertilitätssignalen. 11. Hymenopterologentagung, Stuttgart, Germany (Talk)

Contact

M.Sc. Iris Steitz
Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics
University of Ulm
Helmholtzstraße 10-1 Containerstadt
D-89081 Ulm, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)731 50 22691
Fax +49 (0)731 50 22683
Office: E2.32