My research interests are dominated by the physiological basis of caste differences in social insects, especially ants. Why ants? Some think it may have been early determination. I am especially interested in the relevance of physiology to both social organization and evolution of insect sociality. My 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. We are now focussed on the molecular basis of caste determination in honey bees. I have developed a new passion for the endosymbiont Blochmannia and have started looking at its impact on various processes Camponotus ants.
Ming Huang recently joined the lab as a graduate student in entomology. He is interested in ecology and caste in Pheidole ants. He is studying the development of soldiers in several species of local Pheidole. Valerie Piotrowski, a Senior undergraduate, is working on both caste determination in honey bees and gut symbionts of turtle ants.
Cassill DL, Butler J, Vinson SB, Wheeler DE. 2005. Cooperation during prey digestion between workers and larvae in the ant, Pheidole spadonia. Insectes Sociaux 52(4): 339-343.
Goodisman MAD, Isoe J, Wheeler DE, Wells MA. 2005. Evolution of insect metamorphosis: A microarray-based study of larval and adult gene expression in the ant Camponotus festinatus. Evolution 59(4): 858-870.
Hahn DA, Johnson RA, Buck NA, Wheeler DE. 2004. Storage protein content as a functional marker for colony-founding strategies: A comparative study within the harvester ant genus Pogonomyrmex. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 77(1): 100-108.
Hahn DA, Wheeler DE. 2003. Presence of a single abundant storage hexamerin in both larvae and adults of the grasshopper, Schistocerca americana. Journal of Insect Physiology 49(12): 1189-1197.
Wheeler DE, Nijhout HF. 2003. A perspective for understanding the modes of juvenile hormone action as a lipid signaling system. Bioessays 25(10): 994-1001.
Hunt JH, Buck NA, Wheeler DE. 2003. Storage proteins in vespid wasps: characterization, developmental pattern, and occurrence in adults. Journal of Insect Physiology 49(8): 785-794.
Wheeler, D.E. 2003. One hundred years of caste determination. In Genes, Behaviors and Evolution of Social Insects, Proceedings of the Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Sapporo Meeting, August 2002.
Telang A, Buck NA, Chapman RF, Wheeler DE. 2003. Sexual differences in postingestive processing of dietary protein and carbohydrate in caterpillars of two species. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 76(2): 247-255.
Telang A, Buck NA, Wheeler DE. 2002. Response of storage protein levels to variation in dietary protein levels. Journal of Insect Physiology 48(11): 1021-1029.
Hahn DA, Wheeler DE. 2002. Seasonal foraging activity and bait preferences of ants on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Biotropica 34(3): 348-356.
Evans, J. and D.E. Wheeler. 2001. Gene expression and the evolution of insect polyphenisms. Bioessays 23: 62-68.
Evans, J. and D.E. Wheeler. 2000. Gene expression profiles during the honey bee caste program. Genome Biology 2000, 2(1):research0001.1-0001.6.
Evans, J. and D.E. Wheeler. 1999. Differential gene expression between developing queens and workers in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 96:5575-5580.
Wheeler, D.E., J. Liebig, and B. Holldobler. 1999. Atypical vitellins in ponerine ants. Journal of Insect Physiology 45: 287-293.
Wheeler, D.E. and N.A. Buck. 1996. A role for storage proteins in autogenous reproduction in Aedes atropalpus. Journal of Insect Physiology 42:961-966.
Reichardt, A.K., D.E. Wheeler. 1996. Multiple mating in ants: A case of female control. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 38:219-225.
Wheeler, D.E. 1996. The role of nourishment in oogenesis. Annual Review of Entomology 41: 345-369.
Wheeler, D.E., T. Martinez. 1995. Storage proteins in ants. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 112B: 15-19.
Wheeler, D.E., P.H. Krutzsch. 1994. Anatomy and ultrastructure of the spermatheca and its associated gland in the ant, Crematogaster. Zoomorphology 114: 203-212.
Martinez, T., D.E. Wheeler. 1994. Storage proteins in adult ants: roles in colony founding by queens and in larval rearing by workers. Journal of Insect Physiology 40: 723-729.
Martinez, T., D.E. Wheeler. 1991. Effect of the queen, brood and worker caste on haemolymph titres of vitellogenin in Camponotus festinatus workers. Journal of Insect Physiology 37:347-352.
Wheeler, D.E. 1991. Developmental basis of worker caste polymorphism in ants. American Naturalist 138:1218-1238.
Wheeler, D.E. 1986. Developmental and physiological determinants of caste in social Hymenoptera: Evolutionary implications. American Naturalist 128: 13-34.