Elizabeth Cash

Elizabeth Cash, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Email: eicash@berkeley.edu
Web: www.elizabethcash.com
Office: 5065 Valley Life Sciences Building
Curriculum vitae: Download PDF
Research taxa: Social insects–primarily antsArgie

Research Interests

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 chemical communication 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

Selected Publications

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