Comparative Genomics Identifies Putative Signatures of Sociality in Spiders Academic Article uri icon

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  • Abstract Comparative genomics has begun to elucidate the genomic basis of social life in insects, but insight into the genomic basis of spider sociality has lagged behind. To begin, to characterize genomic signatures associated with the evolution of social life in spiders, we performed one of the first spider comparative genomics studies including five solitary species and two social species, representing two independent origins of sociality in the genus Stegodyphus. We found that the two social spider species had a large expansion of gene families associated with transport and metabolic processes and an elevated genome-wide rate of molecular evolution compared with the five solitary spider species. Genes that were rapidly evolving in the two social species relative to the five solitary species were enriched for transport, behavior, and immune functions, whereas genes that were rapidly evolving in the solitary species were enriched for energy metabolism processes. Most rapidly evolving genes in the social species Stegodyphus dumicola were broadly expressed across four tissues and enriched for transport functions, but 12 rapidly evolving genes showed brain-specific expression and were enriched for social behavioral processes. Altogether, our study identifies putative genomic signatures and potential candidate genes associated with spider sociality. These results indicate that future spider comparative genomic studies, including broader sampling and additional independent origins of sociality, can further clarify the genomic causes and consequences of social life.


  • Tong, Chao
  • Najm, Gabriella M
  • Pinter-Wollman, Noa
  • Pruitt, Jonathan
  • Linksvayer, Timothy A

publication date

  • March 1, 2020