Candidate foraging gene orthologs in a lower termite, Reticulitermes flavipes

Austin Merchant, Dongyan Song, Xiaowei Yang, Xiangrui Li, Xuguo “Joe” Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Under a sociogenomic context, the molecular mechanisms underlying gene-behavior associations are of particular interest. The Drosophila foraging (for) gene has been demonstrated to have a causal role in insect behavioral plasticity. Previous studies of for have revealed many facets of for function, including roles in foraging, energy metabolism, learning and memory, circadian rhythm, and stress resistance. for orthologs have been identified in a variety of insect taxa. However, expression patterns are not consistent across all insects, with for orthologs serving as both positive and negative regulators of foraging behavior. In this study, we cloned two for orthologs, Rffor-α and Rffor-β, from the Eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes. Spatial distribution study showed that the termite brain possesses significantly higher expression levels of Rffor-α and Rffor-β than other types of tissues, which suggests that for may act on the brain to influence an individual's ability to respond to its environment. The temporal expression profile of Rffor across different developmental stages suggests that Rffor functions as a negative regulator of foraging behavior. However, results from environmental impacts, that is, temperature and photoperiod, do not fit under a model of negative correlation between gene expression and locomotion. Further testing is warranted to better understand the interaction between Rffor expression and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-177
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • PKG
  • Reticulitermes flavipes
  • for gene
  • foraging behavior
  • termite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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