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A depauperate immune repertoire precedes evolution of sociality in bees

Overview of attention for article published in Genome Biology (Online Edition), April 2015
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (98th percentile)

Mentioned by

13 news outlets
34 tweeters
10 Facebook pages
1 Google+ user
2 Redditors


117 Dimensions

Readers on

204 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
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A depauperate immune repertoire precedes evolution of sociality in bees
Published in
Genome Biology (Online Edition), April 2015
DOI 10.1186/s13059-015-0628-y
Pubmed ID

Seth M Barribeau, Ben M Sadd, Louis du Plessis, Mark JF Brown, Severine D Buechel, Kaat Cappelle, James C Carolan, Olivier Christiaens, Thomas J Colgan, Silvio Erler, Jay Evans, Sophie Helbing, Elke Karaus, H Michael G Lattorff, Monika Marxer, Ivan Meeus, Kathrin Näpflin, Jinzhi Niu, Regula Schmid-Hempel, Guy Smagghe, Robert M Waterhouse, Na Yu, Evgeny M Zdobnov, Paul Schmid-Hempel


Sociality has many rewards, but can also be dangerous, as high population density and low genetic diversity, common in social insects, is ideal for parasite transmission. Despite this risk, honeybees and other sequenced social insects have far fewer canonical immune genes relative to solitary insects. Social protection from infection, including behavioral responses, may explain this depauperate immune repertoire. Here, based on full genome sequences, we describe the immune repertoire of two ecologically and commercially important bumblebee species that diverged approximately 18 million years ago, the North American Bombus impatiens and European Bombus terrestris. We find that the immune systems of these bumblebees, two species of honeybee, and a solitary leafcutting bee, are strikingly similar. Transcriptional assays confirm the expression of many of these genes in an immunological context and more strongly in young queens than males, affirming Bateman's principle of greater investment in female immunity. We find evidence of positive selection in genes encoding antiviral responses, components of the Toll and JAK/STAT pathways, and serine protease inhibitors in both social and solitary bees. Finally, we detect many genes across pathways that differ in selection between bumblebees and honeybees, or between the social and solitary clades. The similarity in immune complement across a gradient of sociality suggests that a reduced immune repertoire predates the evolution of sociality in bees. The differences in selection on immune genes likely reflect divergent pressures exerted by parasites across social contexts.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 204 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 3 1%
United Kingdom 2 <1%
New Zealand 1 <1%
Germany 1 <1%
Taiwan 1 <1%
Poland 1 <1%
Unknown 195 96%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 56 27%
Researcher 37 18%
Student > Master 21 10%
Student > Doctoral Student 17 8%
Student > Bachelor 17 8%
Other 35 17%
Unknown 21 10%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 123 60%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 29 14%
Veterinary Science and Veterinary Medicine 3 1%
Immunology and Microbiology 3 1%
Environmental Science 3 1%
Other 11 5%
Unknown 32 16%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 116. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 23 February 2021.
All research outputs
of 21,592,997 outputs
Outputs from Genome Biology (Online Edition)
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Genome Biology (Online Edition)
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Altmetric has tracked 21,592,997 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 3,989 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 27.6. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 96% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 244,545 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them