Elizabeth Cash, Ph.D.
I study the behavioral, chemical, and genetic features of communication in social insects. My research focuses on pheromone evolution and 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 diversity and maintenance of chemical communication systems in insect societies. As a postdoctoral scholar, I am investigating evolutionary trade-offs that shape the chemical communication systems of unicolonial Argentine ants (Linepithema humile).
- Functional genetic studies of chemical communication
- Desaturase gene family evolution and diversification
- Nestmate recognition and territoriality
- Environmental effects on colony identity
- Collective immunity in social insects
- Conservation and population genomics
Buellesbach J, Whyte BA , Cash E, Gibson JD, Scheckel KJ, Sandidge R, & Tsutsui ND. 2018. Desiccation resistance and micro-climate adaptation: Cuticular hydrocarbon signatures of different Argentine ant supercolonies across California. Journal of Chemical Ecology 44:1101-1114. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-018-1029-y
Helmkampf M†, Cash E†, Gadau J. 2015. Evolution of the insect desaturase genes with an emphasis on social Hymenoptera. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32:456–471. †These authors contributed equally to this work. https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msu315
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 Research 23:1235–1247. https://dx.doi.org/10.1101%2Fgr.155408.113
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. PNAS 108:5667–5672. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1007901108
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). PNAS 108:5673–5678. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1008617108