Gutenberg Workshop in the Life Sciences: Aging in Social Insects

September 29–October 01, 2021, Mainz 

A characteristic of social insects is division of labor between reproductive queens and non-reproductive workers. Such specialization on different tasks led to the evolution of disparate phenotypes or castes, which differ not only in behavior and reproductive potential, but also in lifespan. Indeed, social insect queens can typically live for many years (up to several decades), whereas their workers are much shorter lived, with average lifespans of a few weeks to a few years. In most social insects, female eggs are totipotent and can develop into either queens or workers through phenotypic plasticity, in response to the conditions experienced during larval development.

Recent advances in genomics and transcriptomics allow the field of social insect biology to investigate the genes, pathways and gene regulatory mechanisms that control differences between female castes. In particular, it is of great interest beyond social insect research to determine which molecular mechanisms allow social insect queens to live so long.

This workshop will bring together researchers investigating the evolution and molecular basis of lifespan in social insects with researchers working on longevity in other model organisms to understand how social evolution led to shifts in the molecular regulation of aging.



Scientific Organizer: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik

Scientific Director: Prof. Dr. Peter Baumann

Event Manager: Dr. Sacha Heerschop