Developmental transcriptomes predict adult social behaviours in the socially flexible sweat bee, Lasioglossum baleicum

Kennedy S. Omufwoko, Adam L. Cronin, Thi Thu Ha Nguyen, Andrew E. Webb, Ian M. Traniello, Sarah D. Kocher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural variation can provide important insights into the genetic and environmental factors that shape social behaviour and its evolution. The sweat bee, Lasioglossum baleicum, is a socially flexible bee capable of producing both solitary and eusocial nests. We demonstrate that within a single nesting aggregation, soil temperatures are a strong predictor of the social structure of nests. Sites with warmer temperatures in the spring have a higher frequency of social nests than cooler sites, perhaps because warmer temperatures provide a longer reproductive window for those nests. To identify the molecular correlates of this behavioural variation, we generated a de novo genome assembly for L. baleicum, and we used transcriptomic profiling to compare adults and developing offspring from eusocial and solitary nests. We find that adult, reproductive females have similar expression profiles regardless of social structure in the nest, but that there are strong differences between reproductive females and workers from social nests. We also find substantial differences in the transcriptomic profiles of stage-matched pupae from warmer, social-biased sites compared to cooler, solitary-biased sites. These transcriptional differences are strongly predictive of adult reproductive state, suggesting that the developmental environment may set the stage for adult behaviours in L. baleicum. Together, our results help to characterize the molecular mechanisms shaping variation in social behaviour and highlight a potential role of environmental tuning during development as a factor shaping adult behaviour and physiology in this socially flexible bee.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular ecology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • evolution
  • genomics
  • plasticity
  • social behaviour


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