Big ant news today! Roche Applied Sciences is apparently funding the sequencing of a series of genomes- three ant and an array of fungal and microbial genomes- in an ambitious project to better understand the relationships among the players in the celebrated ant-fungus relationship. The sequencing project is headed by Nicole Gerardo of Emory University and Cameron Currie of the University of Wisconsin.
This trend in genomics away from sequencing isolated organisms in favor of comparative projects is a welcome one. With multiple attine species- in addition to several existing ant projects- we’ll have considerable power to determine the genes most involved in the ants’ switch from a predatory to an agrarian life style.