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Call for papers - Genomics of social insects

Guest Editor:
Chao Tong: Arizona State University, USA

Submission Status: Open   |   Submission Deadline: 27 September 2024

BMC Genomics is calling for submissions for the Collection Genomics of social insects. This collection welcomes studies on genomics, transcriptomics, or proteomics involving social insects. We encourage authors to submit novel genomes of social insects and OMICs datasets looking at changes in social insects. We are eager to see studies with a conservation aspect as well to highlight the importance of social insects and the challenges associated with their protection. 

Meet the Guest Editor

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Chao Tong: Arizona State University, USA

Dr Tong earned his PhD in evolutionary genomics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He started postdoctoral research focused on the evolutionary genomics of social arthropods, initially at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by Texas Tech University in USA. He is currently working as an assistant research scientist at the Arizona State University applying pan genomics, comparative genomics, and phylogenomics to understand the evolution of social complexity in ants.
Since 2020, he has been a member of the Editorial Boards for both BMC Genomics and BMC Ecology & Evolution.

About the Collection

Social insects are well-known and important contributors to biodiversity and sustainability. Their complex societies, ability to divide and attribute tasks to specialized workers as well as their ability to act to protect the interest of the group over a single individual have been a subject of wonder. Indeed, determining the relative role of nature versus nurture in social behaviors has been of interest since the dawn of genetics for human societies and social insects offer a unique perspective and insight into such matters. Furthermore, they could also provide insights into the origins and evolution of collective behavior. To this date, we know very little of the processes that drove the transition from a solitary lifestyle to a highly organized and complex society.

The genomes of many social insects have been sequenced to date since the first western honeybee Apis mellifera published in 2006 with the hope to answer questions such as: Is there a specific “social genome” or “social gene” that could determine eusociality? Is there a specific size difference or complexity that can explain the development of social behavior? Comparison between social insects and their individual counterparts have attempted to answer these questions and thus far the answer appears to be no. Interestingly, it appears there is nothing obvious in these genomes that could easily explain the collective behavior of these individuals. It is worth noting as well that eusociality has appeared multiple times independently and with different levels of complexity thus further demonstrating the fitness advantage in this behavior.

With the molecular era, the field of sociogenomics has developed on the basis of trying to determine why and how different social cues can affect the genomes of the individuals in that society. Sociogenomics depends on genomic datasets; thus, the recent advances in sequencing techniques have allowed the field to thrive. Studies with social insects have led the way in sociogenomics.

Significant insights have been gained such as the fact that the social environment can have a tremendous impact on the genome by impacting the expression of thousands of genes especially in the brain. This led to a better understanding of phenotypic plasticity and the caste system in certain social insects. For example, the fact that the fate of a female honeybee egg is determined by which food it will receive from the nurse bee. Royal jelly will result in a queen while worker jelly will create a worker under.

This BMC Genomics collection has a large spectrum and we welcome any genomics, transcriptomics or proteomics studies involving social insects. We encourage authors to submit novel genomes of social insects and OMICs datasets looking at changes in social insects.  We would like to encourage studies with a conservation aspect as well to highlight the importance of social insects and the challenges associated with their protection.

Image credit: radub85 /

  1. The field of bee genomics has considerably advanced in recent years, however, the most diverse group of honey producers on the planet, the stingless bees, are still largely neglected. In fact, only eleven of t...

    Authors: Rafael Rodrigues Ferrari, Paulo Cseri Ricardo, Felipe Cordeiro Dias, Natalia de Souza Araujo, Dalliane Oliveira Soares, Qing-Song Zhou, Chao-Dong Zhu, Luiz Lehmann Coutinho, Maria Cristina Arias and Thiago Mafra Batista
    Citation: BMC Genomics 2024 25:587
  2. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are crucial modulators of post-transcriptional gene expression regulation, cell fate determination, and disease development. However, lncRNA functions during short-term heat stre...

    Authors: Bing Zhang, Chaoying Zhang, Jiangchao Zhang, Surong Lu, Huiting Zhao, Yusuo Jiang and Weihua Ma
    Citation: BMC Genomics 2024 25:506

Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes submission of original Research Articles. Should you wish to submit a different article type, please read our submission guidelines to confirm that type is accepted by the journal. Articles for this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. During the submission process you will be asked whether you are submitting to a Collection, please select "Genomics of social insects" from the dropdown menu.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.