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Master of Science




Dr. Graham Thompson


Kin selection explains how complex social behaviour can evolve at the gene level, but this theory does not identify which genes are necessary for the expression of altruism. In my first chapter I overview seven criteria for genes for altruism using the honey bee as a model species. In the second chapter I explore one criterion in detail – that altruism genes are differentially expressed between reproductive and sterile workers. I used results from previous microarray studies to reconstruct nine knowledge-based gene networks that describe reproductive altruism by means of ovary activation and de-activation. All networks were enriched for Gene Ontology terms pertaining to reproduction, and the hub genes in each network tend to consist of genes involved in expression and signaling. 138 genes overlap among networks for workers of different ages and tissues. These networks provide testable hypotheses that explain the expression of altruistic sterility in workers.

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