Elizabeth Cash, Ph.D.
I study the behavioral, chemical, and genetic features of communication in social insects. My research focuses on recognition systems, e.g., colony and caste identity, in ants. I use a combination of techniques including: comparative genomics, experimental genetics, and behavioral and chemical ecology to identify proximate and ultimate mechanisms that lead to the development and maintenance of recognition in insect societies. As a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. Tsutsui, I am investigating evolutionary trade-offs that shape the recognition systems of unicolonial Argentine ants (Linepithema humile).
– Functional genetic studies of ant recognition systems
– Desaturase gene family evolution and diversification
– Seasonal territorial relationships in red harvester ants
– Social environmental effects on colony identity
– Mechanisms of symbioses in ants
Helmkampf M†, Cash E†, Gadau J. 2014. Evolution of the insect desaturase genes with an emphasis on social Hymenoptera. Mol Biol Evol 32:456–471. †These authors contributed equally to this work.
Simola DF, Wissler L, Donahue G, Waterhouse RM, Helmkampf M, Roux J, Nygaard S, Glastad KM, Hagen DE, Viljakainen L, et al. 2013. Social insect genomes exhibit dramatic evolution in gene composition and regulation while preserving regulatory features linked to sociality. Genome Res 23:1235–1247.
Smith CR, Smith CD, Robertson HM, Helmkampf M, Zimin A, Yandell M, Holt C, Hu H, Abouheif E, Benton R, Cash E, et al. 2011. Draft genome of the red harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus. P Natl Acad Sci USA 108:5667–5672.
Smith CD, Zimin A, Holt C, Abouheif E, Benton R, Cash E, Croset V, Currie CR, Elhaik E, Elsik CG, et al. 2011. Draft genome of the globally widespread and invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). P Natl Acad Sci USA 108:5673–5678.