The Traniello Lab

at Boston University


The transition from solitary existence to living in a society was one of the most significant events in the history of life. Important behavioral, neurobiological, developmental, physiological, and morphological adaptations accompanied social evolution. Research in the Traniello laboratory explores how the level of complexity of animal societies - collective intelligence, division of labor, communication, and other hallmarks of advanced sociality - influences brain evolution. We use social insects as models, and study behavior, macroscopic and synaptic neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, metabolism, and gene expression in diverse ant species in ecological and phylogenetic contexts to understand the impact of social organization on brain evolution. Our methods include behavioral analysis, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, computational neuroimaging, graphical modeling, high-performance liquid chromatography, pharmacology, respirometry, and transcriptomics. These tools allow us to examine the evolutionary neurobiology of a society at multiple levels of organization. Our integrative research connects sociobiology, neurobiology, physiology, gerontology, and ecology to discover the selective forces associated with brain evolution in ants, and how the neural architecture of the brain meets the demands of processing social information at the level of the individual and society.

Click here to visit the homepage of recent postdoctoral fellow Sara Arganda

Social Insect Behavioral Ecology • Neuroethology Community Ecology • Biodiversity • Social Immunology

6-30-2018 -

last updated: 6/30/2018

Recent News:

Pseudocolored confocal micrograph stack of a Pheidole dentata worker brain showing the distribution of f-actin (phalloidin, green), synapsin (anti-synapsin IR, magenta), and cell nuclei (TO-PRO-3, blue) in the MB calyces. Microglomerular structure is evident in brightly stained magenta anti-synapsin puncta surrounded by green anti-f-actin staining.