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Data from: Long live the queen, the king and the commoner? transcript expression differences between old and young in the termite Cryptotermes secundus

Citation

Monroy Kuhn, José Manuel; Korb, Judith; Meusemann, Karen (2019), Data from: Long live the queen, the king and the commoner? transcript expression differences between old and young in the termite Cryptotermes secundus, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rs7d7q7

Abstract

Social insects provide promising new avenues for aging research. Within a colony, individuals that share the same genetic background can differ in lifespan by up to two orders of magnitude. Reproducing queens (and in termites also kings) can live for more than 20 years, extraordinary lifespans for insects. We studied aging in a termite species, Cryptotermes secundus, which lives in less socially complex societies with a few hundred colony members. Reproductives develop from workers which are totipotent immatures. Comparing transcriptomes of young and old individuals, we found evidence for aging in reproductives that was especially associated with DNA and protein damage and the activity of transposable elements. By contrast, workers seemed to be better protected against aging. Thus our results differed from those obtained for social insects that live in more complex societies. Yet, they are in agreement with lifespan estimates for the study species. Our data are also in line with expectations from evolutionary theory. For individuals that are able to reproduce, it predicts that aging should only start after reaching maturity. As C. secundus workers are immatures with full reproductive options we expect them to invest into anti-aging processes. Our study illustrates that the degree of aging can differ between social insects and that it may be associated with caste-specific opportunities for reproduction.

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