IOCB Prague

Robert Hanus Group

Chemistry of Social Insects
Research Group
BIO cluster

About our group

Our research group studies the biology of social insects, especially the termites. We follow three main lines of research. First, we are interested in the chemical ecology of termites, namely in the diversity of exocrine chemicals (pheromones, defensive compounds), their biosynthesis and biological significance. Second, we study the biology of reproduction of termite colonies, with emphasis on genetic mechanisms underlying their reproductive success. And third, we search for the physiological mechanisms responsible for the extraordinary longevity of termite kings and queens.



All publications
Evolution of Linoleic Acid Biosynthesis Paved the Way for Ecological Success of Termites
Evolution of Linoleic Acid Biosynthesis Paved the Way for Ecological Success of Termites
Molecular Biology and Evolution 40 (4): msad087 (2023)
Termites are dominant animals of tropical terrestrial ecosystems. Their success is due to their eusocial organization as well as their ability to digest dead plant tissues. While being extremely abundant, the termite diet is poor in crucial nutrients, such as fatty acids. Linoleic acid (LA) is a precursor for many vital biomolecules, and most animals depend on its dietary supply. Termites count among the exceptions known to produce LA de novo, presumably via the action of an unknown Δ12 fatty acyl desaturase (FAD) introducing the second double bond into monounsaturated oleic acid. Here, we search for the evolutionary origin of LA biosynthesis in termites. To this end, we compile the repertoire of FAD homologs from 57 species of termites and their closest relatives, the cockroaches, analyze FAD phylogeny, and identify a potential Δ12 FAD branch, which arose through duplication of a likely Δ9 FAD. We functionally characterize both paralogs and identify the Δ9 activity in the ancestral…
Long-lived termite kings and queens activate telomerase in somatic organs
Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 288 (1949): 20210511 (2021)
Complex evolution of insect insulin receptors and homologous decoy receptors, and functional significance of their multiplicity
Molecular Biology and Evolution 37 (6): 1775–1789 (2020)