Christina M. Grozinger
Department of Entomology, Center for Pollinator Research, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Penn State University, University Park, PA, United States
While honey bee colonies are often thought of a harmonious "superorganisms", our studies of interactions among the queen, workers and drones have revealed a nuanced and sophisticated pheromone communication system that balances cooperation and conflict among members of the colony. Our studies provide novel insights into genomic, epigenomic, physiological and chemical mechanisms that regulate the variation in pheromone production and responses to these pheromones that shape social behavior in honey bees. We have extended these studies to other social insects (bumble bees, paper wasps, and fire ants) to begin to examine the evolution of the genomic pathways underpinning chemical communication and reproductive dominance and the interplay between social environment and individual behavior. Finally, our studies demonstrate the power of using genomic approaches to identify and characterize social cues and signals and their impacts.