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Olav Rueppell

My scientific interest focuses on causes and consequences of social evolution, and I use honey bees as models to evaluate these scientific problems at the genetic, cellular, individual and societal level of biological organization. Accordingly, my research methods comprise bioinformatics, genetic analyses, studies of cells, behavioral and physiological observations and experiments, and demographic and ecological approaches. Social insects fascinate me because their societies add an interesting level of complexity, many social insects groups have experienced a broad ecological success and some species are very important to humans. Some specific current research projects include studies of honey be reproductive traits in the context of the reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution, genetic characterizations of complex traits that are important in social organization, the investigation of honey bee intestinal stem cells, several biodemographic studies of aging, and comparative genomics projects that use Asian honey bee species to find resistance mechanisms to Varroa mites and investigate social genome structure, focusing on the exceptional recombination rates of social insects.

There are 46 included publications by Olav Rueppell :

TitleDateViewsBrief Description
Added weights lead to reduced flight behavior and mating success in polyandrous honey bee queens (Apis mellifera) 2009 298 Honey bee queens are exceptionally promiscuous. Early in life, queens perform one to five nuptial flights, mating with up to 44 drones. Many studies have documented potential benefits of multiple mating. In contrast, potential costs of polyandry and ...
Age, caste, and behavior determine the replicative activity of intestinal stem cells in honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) 2008 401 Honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) display a pronounced natural aging plasticity. The differences in aging rates between the alternative phenotypes and behavioral classes could reflect differences in protection against damage or in the ability to repair v...
Aging and demographic plasticity in response to experimental age structures in honeybees (Apis mellifera L) 2008 297 Honeybee colonies are highly integrated functional units characterized by a pronounced division of labor. Division of labor among workers is mainly age-based, with younger individuals focusing on in-hive tasks and older workers performing the more ha...
Aging without functional senescence in honey bee workers 2007 438 Senescence can be defined demographically as an age- dependent increase in mortality risk, or functionally as a decline in performance. The relationship between the two phenomena is central for understanding the biological aging process and the impli...
Alternative reproductive tactics in females: the case of size polymorphism in ant queens 1999 647 Alternative reproductive tactics are common in males but rather rare in females. In this respect, ants are apparently an interesting exception. Ant queens can either start a new colony on their own or utilize the work force of existing colonies for d...
Alternative reproductive tactics in the queen size dimorphic ant Leptothorax rugatulus (Emery) and population genetic consequences 2001 376 We report the results of a comprehensive investigation of the queen size dimorphism in the North American ant Leptothorax rugatulus. Employing allozymes and microsatellites as genetic markers, we found no evidence that the gene pools of large (macrog...
Altruistic self-removal of health-compromised honey bee workers from their hive 2010 313 Social insect colonies represent distinct units of selection. Most individuals evolve by kin selection and forgo individual reproduction. Instead, they display altruistic food sharing, nest maintenance and self-sacrificial colony defence. Recently, a...
Association between Larger Ovaries and Pollen Foraging in Queenless Apis cerana Workers Supports the Reproductive Ground-plan Hypothesis of Social Evolution 2008 439 Based on the ovarian ground-plan hypothesis (West-Eberhard 1987; West-Eberhard 1996) the reproductive ground-plan hypothesis of social evolution has recently been proposed as a theoretical framework to understand social evolution in honeybees (Amdam ...
Behavioral genomics of honeybee foraging and nest defense 2007 571 The honeybee has been the most important insect species for study of social behavior. The recently released draft genomic sequence for the bee will accelerate honeybee behavioral genetics. Although we lack sufficient tools to manipulate this genome e...
Biodemographic analysis of male honey bee mortality 2005 511 Biodemographic studies of insects have significantly enhanced our understanding of the biology of aging. Eusocial insects have evolved to form different groups of colony members that are specialized for particular tasks and highly dependent on each o...
Characterization of quantitative trait loci for the age of first foraging in honey bee workers 2009 555 Identifying the basis of quantitative trait loci (QTL) remains challenging for the study of complex traits, such as behavior. The honey bee is a good model combining interesting social behavior with a high recombination rate that facilitates this ide...
Complex determination of queen body size in the queen size dimorphic ant Leptothorax rugatulus (Formicidae: Hymenoptera) 2001 324 In order to understand the evolution of natural variability, and polymorphisms in particular, it is essential to study proximate causes. Our study is the first work on ants to determine formally the heritability of quantitative traits in a quantitati...
Complex pleiotropy characterizes the pollen hoarding syndrome in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). 2012 163 The pollen hoarding syndrome consists of a large suite of correlated traits in honey bees that may have played an important role in colony organization and consequently the social evolution of honey bees. The syndrome was first discovered in two stra...
Cross-species correlation between queen mating numbers and worker ovary sizes suggests kin conflict may influence ovary size evolution in honeybees. 2011 154 During social evolution, the ovary size of reproductively specialized honey bee queens has dramatically increased while their workers have evolved much smaller ovaries. However, worker division of labor and reproductive competition under queenless co...
Differences in Ultrasonic Vocalizations between Wild and Laboratory California Mice (Peromyscus californicus) 2010 164 Background: Ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) emitted by muroid rodents, including laboratory mice and rats, are used as phenotypic markers in behavioral assays and biomedical research. Interpretation of these USVs depends on understanding the signific...
Extraordinary starvation resistance in Temnothorax rugatulus (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) colonies: Demography and adaptive behavior 2005 323 Ant colony mortality has not been sufficiently studied, even though it is crucial for understanding social insect population biology and can serve as an important model for general aging and mortality processes. Particularly, studies on proximate mec...
A female caste specialized for the production of unfertilized eggs in the ant Crematogaster smithi 1999 349 In colonies of the North American ant Crematogaster smithi “large workers” occur which are morphologically intermediate between winged queens and small workers and appear to be specialized for the production of unfertilized eggs. In queenless colonie...
First record of ants with Cestodes from southwestern United States. 1998 357 Ants of the myrmicine tribe Formicoxenini may serve as intermediate hosts of im- mature stages (cysticercoids) of two genera of dilepidid cestodes. The parasites are thought to enhance the transmission to their final hosts, piciform, galliform or pas...
Food manipulation in honey bees induces physiological responses at the individual and colony level. 2011 250 Apis mellifera experiences large population declines in the USA and honeybee health is affected by many, potentially interacting factors that need to be addressed through a variety of approaches. In this context, we evaluated the impact of nutritiona...
Genetic and social structure of the queen size dimorphic ant Leptothorax cf. andrei 2001 548 Summary 1. The study of queen polymorphisms can provide insight into the evolution of alternative life histories in ants. In this paper, results of morphological, social and genetic investigations of the newly discovered queen size dimorphism in Lep...
Genetic Architecture of Ovary Size and Asymmetry in European Honey Bee Workers 2011 197 The molecular basis of complex traits is increasingly understood but a remaining challenge is to identify their co-regulation and inter-dependence. Pollen hoarding in honey bees is a complex trait associated with a well-characterized suite of linked ...
Genetic architecture of ovary size and asymmetry in European honeybee workers. 2011 87 The molecular basis of complex traits is increasingly understood but a remaining challenge is to identify their co-regulation and inter-dependence. Pollen hoarding (pln) in honeybees is a complex trait associated with a well-characterized suite of li...
High recombination frequency creates genotypic diversity in colonies of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior 2006 422 Honeybees are known to have genetically diverse colonies because queens mate with many males and the recombination rate is extremely high. Genetic diversity among social insect workers has been hypothesized to improve general performance of large and...
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers live longer in small than in large colonies 2009 299 Social insect colonies are highly integrated units that can be regarded in some respects as super-organisms, with colony size and individuals analogous to body size and cells in unitary organisms. In both, unitary organisms and super-organisms, the r...
In-vitro infection of pupae with Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus suggests variation for susceptibility and disturbance of transcriptional homeostasis in honey bees (Apis mellifera) 2013 393 The ongoing decline of honey bee health worldwide is a serious economic and ecological concern. One major contributor to the decline are pathogens, including several honey bee viruses. However, information is limited on the biology of bee viruses and...
Inclusive fitness theory and eusociality. 2011 199 [...] Nowak et al.1 are incorrect to state that inclusive fitness requires a number of ''stringent assumptions'' such as pairwise interactions, weak selection, linearity, additivity and special population structures. [...] we dispute the claim of Now...
Intracolonial patterns of reproduction in the queen-size dimorphic ant Leptothorax rugatulus 2002 252 Animals that live in genetically heterogeneous groups are faced with a combination of cooperation and conflict. Reproductive skew theory aims to provide a unified theory of the partitioning of reproduction in animal societies by combining genetic, de...
Lack of plasticity in the behaviour of queens of the ant Leptothorax rugatulus Emery (Formicidae: Hymenoptera) 2002 670 Eusociality has evolved independently several times (Hölldobler and Wilson, 1990; Choe and Crespi,1997). Most cases are known from insects, and over 10,000 species of ants are exclusively eusocial, with the exception of some social parasites (Hölldob...
Male maturation response to selection of the pollen-hoarding syndrome in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) 2006 328 Division of labour in social insect colonies relies on behavioural functional differentiation (specialization) of individuals with similar genomes. However, individual behavioural traits do not evolve independently of each other (behavioural syndrome...
Mitochondrial markers in the ant Leptothorax rugatulus reveal the population genetic consequences of female philopatry at different hierarchical levels 2003 398 Leptothorax rugatulus, an abundant North American ant, displays a conspicuous queen size polymorphism that is related to alternative reproductive tactics. Large queens participate mainly in mating flights and found new colonies independent of their m...
Multiple Mating But Not Recombination Causes Quantitative Increase in Offspring Genetic Diversity for Varying Genetic Architectures 2012 68 Explaining the evolution of sex and recombination is particularly intriguing for some species of eusocial insects because they display exceptionally high mating frequencies and genomic recombination rates. Explanations for both phenomena are based ...
A new type of exocrine gland and its function in mass recruitment in the ant Cylindromyrmex whymperi (Formicidae: Cerapachinae) 2001 591 Workers of the ant Cylindromyrmex whymperi display mass trail recruitment. Bioassays show that the trail pheromone originates from a unique gland between abdominal sternites 6 and 7. The gland has a hitherto unknown structural organization. Upon leav...
The nurse's load: early-life exposure to brood-rearing affects behavior and lifespan in honey bees (Apis mellifera) 2009 566 Long-lived honey bees (Apis mellifera) develop in fall. This pattern may be explained by reduced nurse loads. When the amount of brood in colonies declines as a function of adverse foraging conditions, adult bees build up surplus nutrient stores that...
PDK1 and HR46 Gene Homologs Tie Social Behavior to Ovary Signals. 2009 280 The genetic basis of division of labor in social insects is a central question in evolutionary and behavioral biology. The honey bee is a model for studying evolutionary behavioral genetics because of its well characterized age -correlated division o...
Pleiotropy of segregating genetic variants that affect honey bee worker life expectancy. 2012 162 In contrast to many other complex traits, the natural genetic architecture of life expectancy has not been intensely studied, particularly in non-model organisms, such as the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.). Multiple factors that determine honey bee wo...
Pleiotropy, epistasis and new QTL: the genetic architecture of honey bee foraging behavior 2004 636 The regulation of division of labor in social insects, particularly in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), has received considerable attention from a number of biological subdisciplines, including quantitative and behavioral genetics, because of the h...
Population structure of Apis cerana in Thailand reflects biogeography and current gene flow rather than Varroa mite association. 2011 357 Concordance between the mitochondrial haplotypes of the Eastern honey bee, Apis cerana, and its ectoparasitic Varroa mites across the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand has suggested that local host–pathogen co-evolution may be responsible for the geographic...
Rapid evolution of immune proteins in social insects 2009 623 The existence of behavioral traits connected to defense against pathogens manifests the importance of pathogens in the evolution of social insects. However, very little is known about how pathogen pressure has affected the molecular evolution of gene...
Regulation of life history determines lifespan of worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) 2007 370 Life expectancy of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) is of general interest to gerontological research because its variability among different groups of bees is one of the most striking cases of natural plasticity of aging. Worker honey bees spend their...
A review on self-destructive defense behaviors in social insects. 2012 860 Colony defense is a necessary but dangerous task for social insects, and nest defensive behaviors often lead to a premature death of the actor. As an extreme form of colony defense, self-sacrificial behaviors have evolved by kin selection in various ...
Sex allocation ratios in the facultatively polygynous ant, Leptothorax acervorum 2001 360 We investigated sex allocation in a central European population of the facultatively polygynous ant Leptothorax acervorum. The population-wide sex ratio was found to be quite balanced, with a proportional investment in female sexuals of 0.49. Sex all...
A simple and distinctive microbiota exclusively associated with honey bees and bumble bees. 2011 236 Specialized relationships with bacteria often allow animals to exploit a new diet by providing a novel set of metabolic capabilities. Bees are a monophyletic group of Hymenoptera that transitioned to a completely herbivorous diet from the carnivorous...
Size-dimorphism in the queens of the North American ant Leptothorax rugatulus (Emery) 1998 277 With recent findings of an unexpected variability in the reproductive behaviour of ant sexuals, their morphology has become an area of major evolutionary interest (Heinze and Tsuji, 1995). Here we report on the occurrence of two queen morphs in Lepto...
Support for the reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution and major QTL for ovary traits of Africanized worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) 2011 64 Background The reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution suggests that reproductive controls of a solitary ancestor have been co-opted during social evolution, facilitating the division of labor among social insect workers. Despite sub...
Support for the reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution and major QTL for ovary traits of Africanized worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) 2011 103 Background: The reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution suggests that reproductive controls of a solitary ancestor have been co-opted during social evolution, facilitating the division of labor among social insect workers. Despite sub...
Variance-based selection may explain general mating patterns in social insects 2008 284 Female mating frequency is one of the key parameters of social insect evolution. Several hypotheses have been suggested to explain multiple mating and considerable empirical research has led to conflicting results. Building on several earlier analyse...