Welcome to the Amsalem Lab!
Our lab studies the evolutionary development and the mechanistic basis of social behavior in insects, and combines perspectives from chemical ecology, evolutionary biology, functional genomics, behavior and physiology. Our group uses primarily bumblebees, mason bees and fire ants as model systems, though we are interested in studying social evolution broadly in other insect species as well. We further combine applied aspects by studying health in managed bumblebees with a goal of improving management, productivity and health of bumble bee colonies.
Current projects in the lab include the study of reproductive division of labor in bumblebee colonies, specifically the role of brood pheromone, and sterility and fertility signals produced by the queen and the workers. We further study the hormonal regulation of reproduction, and the evolution of chemical signals in social insects using both solitary and advanced eusocial insects as model systems to examine the production and perception of signals, their role and their molecular evolution. Among the more applied aspects of our research, we study the regulation of life history traits in bumblebees such as diapause and caste determination underpinning the productivity and performances of bumblebee queens and colonies, and the mode of action and effects of CO2 narcosis on the health of bumblebee queens and other insects.
Photo by: Alex Wild