Insect Sociogenomics Laboratory


WHAT: We use an integrative approach, blending behavior, ecology, physiology, and genomics, to discover new insights into the mechanisms and evolution of social behavior. 

WHO: Our work focuses on eusocial insect colonies, whose highly integrated societies exhibit a bewildering complexity of individual and colony-level behaviors.  Our main study systems are honey bees (Apis mellifera) and paper wasps (genus Polistes)

HOW: Our research involves field studies of naturally occurring colonies, experimental manipulations in semi-natural or lab settings, and numerous lab techniques to measure physiological, chemical, and genetic characters of individual insects.  We enjoy harnessing the power of next generation sequencing data to test hypotheses about behavior, development, and evolution, as well as to develop new genomic resources for social insects in order to facilitate comparative evolutionary analyses.

The overarching goals of our research are to:

  1. 1)gain insight into how complex social behavior can evolve from solitary behavior,

  2. 2)understand the roles of conservation and convergence in the molecular basis of complex phenotypes,

  3. 3)test ideas about the evolution of sociality using new genomic tools,

  4. 4)integrate information on behavior, physiology, ecology, and genomics to understand and overcome challenges to bee health.

More information on Research Areas page.

Our research: what, who, and how

PI: Amy Toth

Assistant Professor

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

Department of Entomology

Iowa State University

Mailing Address:


251 Bessey Hall

Ames, IA 50011

Office: 343 Bessey Hall

Lab: 454 and 467 Bessey Hall

Email: amytoth(at)

Office phone: 515-294-3121

Fax: 515-294-1337

Last updated August, 2015 by A.L.T.

Photo credits:

Apis mellifera by Ann Marie Toth

Polistes fuscatus by Alex Wild

Beekeeping by ISU (Bob Elbert)

EEOB Department Website

University Website

Entomology Department Website

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