Ant genomics: strength and diversity in numbers


  • The first two authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • The authors share a passion for the genetics of caste determination and social complexity, behavioural ecology, and evolutionary history of ants. They are also interested in the development of molecular and genomic tools to further the understanding of ants and their roles in Earth's ecosystem. C.D.S. has worked on several insect genome projects and is interested in using ants to study the genetic and epigenetic components of behavioural disorders. C.R.S. is interested in the proximate and ultimate factors underlying division of labour in social insects. U.M. is interested in the behaviour, evolution, ecology, microbiology, and natural history of social insects. J.G. is an evolutionary biologist interested in the genetic basis of species differences and speciation in Hymenoptera and the proximate and ultimate mechanisms of genetic variability in social insects.


Christopher Smith; E-mail:


A recent workshop held at the Arizona State University Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity gathered over 50 prominent researchers from around the globe to discuss the development of genomic resources for several ant species. Ants play crucial roles in many ecological niches and the sequencing of several ant genomes promises to elucidate topics ranging from the genetic basis for social complexity, longevity and behaviour to systems biology and the identification of novel antimicrobial compounds. Unlike other species, most ant genomes are being generated by individual labs and small collaborations without the annotation and computational resources that support prominent model organism genome databases such those for the fruitfly and roundworm. Attendees summarized their current progress and future plans for several ant genomes and discussed how best to coordinate the analysis and annotation of ant sequences to benefit the broad research interests of the social insect community.