Diana E Wheeler
Assistant Research Scientist, Entomology
Diana Wheeler, PhD, and her research interests are dominated by the physiological basis of caste differences in social insects, especially ants. Why ants? She is especially interested in the relevance of physiology to both social organization and evolution of insect sociality. Research has included included regulation of oogenesis, storage of proteins by adult workers and queens, mechanisms of sperm storage by queens, and, of course, caste determination.Dr. Wheeler is working on the molecular basis of caste determination in honey bees. Since caste is determined by the diet larvae receive, caste determination involves signaling pathways that are fundamental to pathways regulated by nutrition in all organisms, even single-celled ones. Insulin and TOR signaling pathways are turning out to be especially important. Her team also works to understand how pathways are shaped by natural selection acting at the level of the colony, in addition to the level of the individual.