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First Known 'Social Chromosome' Found

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other dept.

Science 42

sciencehabit writes "To humans, all fire ants may look alike. But the tiny, red, stinging bugs known as Solenopsis invicta have two types of social organization, and these factions are as recognizable to the ants as rival football teams are to us. Researchers once thought that the groups' distinct physiological and behavioral profiles stemmed from a variant in a single gene. Now, a new study (abstract) provides the first evidence that the gene in question is bound up in a bundle of some 600 other genes, versions of which are all inherited together. This 'supergene' takes up a large chunk of what may be the first known social chromosome, analogous to the chromosomes that determine sex in humans."

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Social Chromosome (-1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42613161)

Queue the comment about lacking this chromosome in basement dwellers, illustrating that the person didn't RTFA in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#42613261)

Obviously YOU don't have it... Now please consider getting out of your mother's basement, but before you do, for the sanity of the Surface Dwellers, please take off your mother's "granny panties".

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#42613341)

Some of us have it, but expression of the preferred set of behavioral traits only manifest in the presence of alcohol.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 2 years ago | (#42613269)

How about the grammar correction? It's 'cue' not 'queue'.

Re:Social Chromosome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613403)

How about the grammar correction? It's 'cue' not 'queue'.

I guess the grammar Nazis never quit

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42613469)

Queue is acceptable as a synonym for cue if there are many people waiting to make the same snide remark.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 years ago | (#42614003)

Not when he's giving a countdown.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42614231)

Granted, it takes a bit more imagination, but that happens too.

Re:Social Chromosome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42617127)

maybe it is a countdown to their waiting rather than their posting? Now we need a Cue countdown ... posting anon as this is too far OT for my account.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42613659)

That's not a grammar error. The sentence as written is formally correct, it just doesn't have the meaning the poster probably intended.

Re:Social Chromosome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615313)

Exactly. This is an error of definition, not grammar.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

russotto (537200) | about 2 years ago | (#42613271)

Damnit, I was just about to post that comment. So instead I'll point out that the expression is "Cue the comment" -- it's not being entering a line, rather it has been notified that it is next.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#42613287)

it's not being entering a line, rather it has been notified that it is next.

But you have to queue before they cue you up, yes?

Re:Social Chromosome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613411)

touche

Re: Social Chromosome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613909)

It's spelled "douche"

Re:Social Chromosome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613431)

touche Frosty

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42613507)

Only slashdot has a Queue of grammar nazi's to complain about Cue vs Queue

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 2 years ago | (#42613611)

Only slashdot has a Queue of grammar nazi's to complain about Cue vs Queue

You're the one that referenced basment dwellers and RTFA, you should've remembered the grammar nazi component too. :) It's like driving a car without any gas.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

SuperSlacker64 (1918650) | about 2 years ago | (#42614303)

And there's the car analogy to top it off.

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

Nivag064 (904744) | about 2 years ago | (#42618049)

Hmm...

Our car runs on petrol, but we once did have a van running on compressed natural gas.

cue : Competitive Unwanted Expressions?

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42615465)

ST-TNG's "Q" must encounter this problem all the time.

"Queue?"

"No, it's Q, just Q"

"Cue?"

"NO! Q! Just Q, dammit! Spell it right or I'll banish you to the farthest edge of the universe!!!"

"Okay! Jeez, you don't have to get all omnipotent about it."

Re:Social Chromosome (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42617157)

I wish the analogues to this chromosome be isolated in the human genome as soon as possible, so I can expunge it from my system with gene therapy. damn fellow humans, the less interaction with them the better....

boy O boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613309)

now every one here will want one in the hope for getting a girlfriend, and the geek culture will become extinct :P

Strong Sports Affiliations? (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 2 years ago | (#42613467)

Inherited, you say?

This might go a long way to explaining why certain families are very invested in sports (especially supporting national sports teams), where other families don't really care about it. I think we all know that one family where everyone loves football, even though they all have different teams ... or, if you're part of that family, then it might go a long way to explaining why no one outside your family is nearly passionate enough about football.

Re:Strong Sports Affiliations? (1)

Gamer_2k4 (1030634) | about 2 years ago | (#42614183)

Inherited, you say? This might go a long way to explaining why certain families are very invested in sports (especially supporting national sports teams), where other families don't really care about it. I think we all know that one family where everyone loves football, even though they all have different teams ... or, if you're part of that family, then it might go a long way to explaining why no one outside your family is nearly passionate enough about football.

Nature versus nurture. This is an example of nurture.

Re:Strong Sports Affiliations? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | about 2 years ago | (#42616751)

Perhaps, but this is a good example of what it means to be inherited as opposed to genetic. The work in the ever-growing field of Epigenetics [wikipedia.org] has taught us that there are many, many influential and inherited things, be they methylation patterns, RNA transcripts or other small molecules, or even persistent environmental pollutants (PCBs, PBDEs, etc.), that affect us without being genetic. Expression and regulation of different genes is a huge factor in our development, and not always controlled by genetic factors, despite being something that can be affected whilst in the womb. There may well be a genetic component to families liking football (predisposition to athletics, competitive, etc.) but the fact that it is taught doesn't necessarily mean it isn't inherited, at least in the broad sense of the word. Nurture and nature aren't separate, they communicate back and forth.

Re:Strong Sports Affiliations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42631311)

Nurture and nature aren't separate, they communicate back and forth.

How dare you, sir. I come to slashdot for amusement, not intelligence.

Re:Strong Sports Affiliations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42621637)

In Oklahoma, EVERY family loves sports. Except mine.

Thinking.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613503)

I think I'm missing that chromosome.

The Effects of Sociability Genetics Nations (2)

DaneM (810927) | about 2 years ago | (#42613531)

If, indeed, other creatures--like humans--inherit personality traits (such as sociability or the lack thereof) genetically--in addition to learning skills in these matters--then this leads to a potentially very fairly impactful syllogism:

1. The sociability (or lack thereof) of a human being is largely determined by genetics.
2. The social structure of a society is largely determined by the values and traits of its comprising members.
3. Those who are highly-sociable tend to thrive in societies where social interaction is closely related to power structure.
4. Highly-sociable individuals who live in societies where the power structure is traditionally more monolithic (such a theocracy, monarchy, dictatorship, fanatical regime, harsh regime, etc.) tend to become marginalized because they're seen as a threat to the traditional power structure (by way of gathering followers, potentially questioning authority, etc.).
5. Sexual selection (that is, natural selection by way of how mates are chosen) is highly sensitive to how a society sees a given individual's value and long-term viability (that is, perceived "potential").
6. Sexual selection leads to genetic traits being favored or not favored, such that desirable ones (including those chosen by societal "momentum," as above) are emphasized, and undesirable ones are made less common.
7. Because of #6, the genes for high sociability will be largely "bred out" of societies wherein such a trait is not valued.
8. Populations tend to reject and marginalize those who are of a minority genetic makeup (i.e. foreigners, "ethnics," etc.)

Conclusion: Sexual selection among humans--largely driven by societal determinations--will cause, and has caused certain parts of the world to become genetically predisposed AGAINST all societal structures and customs that require a high degree of sociability and a distributed power structure. This included democratic government (in its various forms), free religion (i.e. not governed by monolithic or oligarchic authority), freedom to demonstrate, freedom of speech, and so forth. This hereby calls into question whether it's valid to impress or force such structures and customs upon a given population unless/until these populations see themselves as being ready for, and desirous of these things.

Notably, what a society desires changes dramatically over time. "Public consciousness" shifts, and thereby changes what is seen as "desirable" in mates (as well as what is a survivable/unsurvivable genetic trait). Therefore, it's not only possible but likely that societies which are not ready for such social structures/customs now will be in the future--and likewise, that those which were unready for them only a few years ago are ready for them now. I believe we're seeing this in what has been dubbed, the "Arab Spring." Likewise, much of the world seems to be "awakening" from the state of accepting monolithic authority structures, and bucking long-standing traditions. Could it be that for the last generation or two (or several), those who were willing to question authority and customs became more desirable as mates than they were previously? The "hippy"/"baby boomer" generation of the United States certainly seems to support this theory. (Sadly, our cultural apathy is yet extremely powerful.)

I don't know if my theories are correct, but I think the syllogism is good (in the logical sense). If the solution truly follows from the premises, perhaps it's worth asking whether those premises are, indeed, as correct as I suspect they are.

Re:The Effects of Sociability Genetics on Nations (1)

DaneM (810927) | about 2 years ago | (#42613541)

Crap, I meant "ON Nations" in the title. Oh, well.

Models and Simulations (2)

mangu (126918) | about 2 years ago | (#42614653)

You present an interesting model, but whether it works as you expect or not depends on the parameters.

For instance, you say "Sexual selection (that is, natural selection by way of how mates are chosen) is highly sensitive...". Exactly how much is it sensitive? Let's say two people of opposite genders meet by chance, how is the probability that they will mate affected by whatever parameter you are studying?

No one knows exactly the answer to these questions, because society is so complex. It's very hard to isolate the relevant parameters, and don't even think you can measure them to get numerical results with any accuracy.

When people create detailed mathematical models of society, they get wildly different answers from their simulations because no one knows the relevant parameters or their numerical values. That's why you get so many conflicting opinions on the economy, no one really knows what they are talking about.

Re:The Effects of Sociability Genetics Nations (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 2 years ago | (#42614711)

You bring up some interesting points, IMHO.
Some of what you espoused had me wondering how this 'social gene'( or cluster), may apply to racial/ethnic prejudices and bias that we seem to be unable to overcome as a species.
Although, this seems to occur with other species than humans, at least at first glance. The "Beware of those that are not 'us', they may be dangerous!" behavior seems universal among all mammals.

My understanding is that this behavior is an evolutionary trait to help survival of the species....in other words, paranoia is an inherited and beneficial trait for survival.

How all of this may tie in with societies, cultures, etc., may prove to be interesting if there is basis for this data.

On a more personal note, racism and prejudice are a personal interest to me.

Maybe I should call it a hobby?
I was one of those 'token white folk' who got 'bussed'[1] to an all black middle school (Malcolm X Middle School, no less!) in the 1960's de-segredation exchange. Interesting experience being on the 'wrong end of the shitty stick'.

I could have come out of that experience bitter, but actually it ended all possibility that that I succumb to racial prejudice. Weird, that...according to what I see around me.

As a side note:
1. the most attractive girl in high school (9 years after) was VERY dark skinned! Not only my opinion, she was voted 'Homecoming Queen' by the student body.[1976]
2. some of my in-laws are VERY dark skinned.
3. I view skin color the same way I notice hair color.
4.my biological father and I were separated by divorce when I was about 1 year old, and my step-father had MANY racial/ethnic prejudices.

A lot of questions.....

Re:The Effects of Sociability Genetics Nations (1)

DaneM (810927) | about 2 years ago | (#42614889)

Mangu, I agree that we don't have all the parameters to truly ascertain the truth of the matters I mentioned. I wish we did! but sadly, I think the heart of problems with finding data on such things is that we're all too biased--not necessarily prejudiced; simply opinionated, at least--to search out the data with scientific detachment (no matter how well we might presume we're doing). A second part of the problem--as you suggest--is that we truly don't know what to look for. Sure, we all have SOME of the pieces--as a lifetime of anecdotal evidence inevitably provides--but to say that what you or I know is authoritative is similar to a single tree saying it knows all about dirt! :-) I would love to know more about this--and I think that eventually, as we become more civilized and intelligent as a species--we will. On a related note, I view the field of psychology in much the same way as I view the above--of profound importance, but not yet something we can fully handle.

Rts008, thank-you for sharing your experiences and observations. I hope I don't give the wrong impression when I say that racism is probably mostly about the instinct about not trusting (and/or fearing/hating) that which is not (ostensibly) like us. This is, as I'll argue, partly rational--not that it's acceptable to be nasty to other people (regardless of shape or color)--but because I find it inevitable that any semi-isolated population, such as can create a distinctive "look" is also capable of developing partly-incompatible social traits, relative to a genetically different population. Obviously, we (that is, decent people) don't accept this as justification for abusing or marginalizing people of other races--but what happens when one population is extremely keen--genetically--on a harsh, warrior-driven power structure (eg. certain Native American tribes, pre-European invasion), and another is extremely keen--genetically--on a distributed, art-driven power structure (eg. some of the ancient Greeks)? Is it possible for two races to be socially-incompatible as a result of long-term genetic selection? If so, how do we rectify this (inter-racial pairing? cultural re-education? military invasion? political pressure?)--and perhaps more importantly, SHOULD we try to do this before it's ready to happen on its own? (I strongly suspect that to best manage the pressures of inter-racial trade, political alliance, personal prosperity, etc. each culture will adapt and thereby encourage the selection of mates who excel at overcoming relevant challenges rather than making them worse through stark difference.)

I once watched a speaker at my college--a prominent activist on womens' and African Americans' rights (whose name I unfortunately forget). She said one thing that's really stuck with me: that we'll never truly overcome our racial prejudices and associated problems so long as we try to be (or pretend to be) "color-blind." She said that each race has its strengths, and to pretend that all people are "the same" because we don't want to be prejudice was tantamount to reducing each race of people--and each person, individually--to something less than him/herself. I regret deeply that this is not a stance taken by many people--and indeed, even complimenting a specific race on something is considered a grave social taboo and is typically received as an insult. Lately, even describing a person as "black," "African American" or similar tends to evoke unpleasant responses from those who are otherwise quite friendly and easygoing. I can see how past and present hardships make people touchy on this--but I also wonder how we ever hope to move past those wrongs if we continually bristle at the mention of race.

Anyway, I digress.

I look forward to reading any further thoughts you two (or others) have on this.

Social, Eh? (1)

jkiller (1030766) | about 2 years ago | (#42613663)

Do they have a Facebook page I can 'Like"...?

football teams? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42613711)

and these factions are as recognizable to the ants as rival football teams are to us.

So, not at all?

I thought football was soccer (2, Informative)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 years ago | (#42614619)

After all it's played with a puck too, isn't it?

Not found in cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614639)

Cats DO NOT have this chromosome.

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615191)

Where do i get one then?

Social insects and animals are totally different. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#42615479)

Insects have diverged from the reptilian/mammalian lines long time ago and have pursued a completely different strategy. In some sense you could consider an entire ant colony as a single animal. The queen and the drones are the equivalents of the gonads (ovaries and testes). The various castes of worker bees doing various functions are actually organs of the animal. Some bees flap wings to circulate air through the hive, kind of lungs/sweat glands. Soldier caste of army ants are like antlers or talons. All the workers are genetic clones of one another like all our organs have the same DNA. The non-germ line cells in our bodies, (i.e. all cells in hearts, lungs, livers, eyes, etc etc) voluntarily give up the ability to reproduce on their own, obey the cell-death command and die on command. Only the germ line cells, the ones in the gonads get to produce cells that will survive independently in the next generation, like the queen and the drones.

So finding a huge social organization gene complex in ants or bees is not likely to help us find what makes us social or anti-social.

Football (1)

amanaplanacanalpanam (685672) | about 2 years ago | (#42615561)

That's funny...to me, all football teams look alike.

Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42617109)

The top comments are going to be "Funny" self-deprecating one-liners about lacking the social chromosome, and there's gonna be a bunch of -1's talking about how the parent Poster lacks it...

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