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Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 4 February 2004
Vol. 2004, Issue 5, p. pe5
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2004.5.pe5]

PERSPECTIVES

From Genes to Societies

Olav Rueppell, Gro V. Amdam, Robert E. Page Jr., and James R. Carey

Olav Rueppell is in the Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC 27403, USA. Gro V. Amdam is in the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA, and the Department of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Norway, 1432 Aas, Norway. Robert E. Page Jr. and James R. Carey are in the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. E-mail: olav_rueppell{at}uncg.edu (O.R.)

http://sageke.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2004/5/pe5

Key Words: ants • bees • biodemography • life history • polyphenism • social evolution

Abstract: Research on model organisms has substantially advanced our understanding of aging. However, these studies collectively lack any examination of the element of sociality, an important feature of human biology. Social insects present a number of unique possibilities for investigating social influences on aging and potentially detecting new mechanisms for extremely prolonged, healthy life spans that have evolved naturally. Social evolution has led to life spans in reproductive females that are much longer (up to over 100-fold) than those of males or of nonreproductive worker castes. These differences are particularly dramatic because they are due to environmental influences, as all individuals develop from the same genomes. Social insect colonies consist of semi-autonomous individuals, and the relationship between the colony and the individual creates many interesting predictions in the light of the common theories of aging. Furthermore, the variety of lifestyles of social insects creates the potential for crucial comparative analyses across distinct social systems.

Citation: O. Rueppell, G. V. Amdam, R. E. Page, J. R. Carey, From Genes to Societies. Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2004 (5), pe5 (2004).

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THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CITED BY OTHER ARTICLES:
Epigenetic Regulation of Aging in Honeybee Workers.
S. W. Omholt and G. V. Amdam (2004)
Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2004, pe28
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Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150