Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Entomology
Journal or Book Title
Journal of Experimental Biology
The specialized ability to learn and recall individuals based on distinct facial features is known in only a few, large-brained social taxa. Social paper wasps in the genus Polistes are the only insects known to possess this form of cognitive specialization. We analyzed genome-wide brain gene expression during facial and pattern training for two species of paper wasps (P. fuscatus, which has face recognition, and P. metricus, which does not) using RNA sequencing. We identified 237 transcripts associated with face specialization in P. fuscatus, including some transcripts involved in neuronal signaling (serotonin receptor and tachykinin). Polistes metricus that learned faces (without specialized learning) and P. fuscatus in social interactions with familiar partners (from a previous study) showed distinct sets of brain differentially expressed transcripts. These data suggest face specialization in P. fuscatus is related to shifts in the brain transcriptome associated with genes distinct from those related to general visual learning and social interactions.
The Company of Biologists Ltd
Berens, Ali J.; Tibbetts, Elizabeth A.; and Toth, Amy L., "Cognitive specialization for learning faces is associated with shifts in the brain transcriptome of a social wasp" (2017). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 267.