Knuf, Ina












Ina Knuf
PhD Student

Curriculum Vitae

January 2024

PhD student, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

Title: “Epigenetic regulation of division of labor in the ant Temnothorax longispinosus

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik

2021 – 2023

M.Sc. Biology, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

Thesis: “Hot and brooding: Comparison of brood  incubation temperature in bumble bee morphs”

Supervisor: Dr. Joseph Colgan

2018 - 2021

B.Sc. Biology, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

Thesis: “Queen presence and number affect fecundity and survival of workers of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile”

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik

Research Interests

During my Bachelor´s and Master´s degrees I developed a strong interest in the evolution and behavior of social insects. I am particularly interested in the evolution and expression of individual behaviors in ant colonies and their regulation. My aim is to better understand task-specific gene expression within a social colony and to gain new insights into the epigenetic regulation of the division of labor.

PhD Project

Insect societies are characterized by a division of labor in which specialized group members take on different tasks. In general, task performance and worker behavior are linked to gene expression. However, the role of additional epigenetic mechanisms such as miRNAs or transcriptional factors in the regulation of task-associated transcriptional activity is unresolved. Recently was shown that the activity of half of all odorant receptors in the antennae varied between brood carers and foragers, highlighting not only the importance of the peripheral nervous system in task regulation but also indicating a possible sensory filter. I plan to follow up on these results by linking individual worker behavior and their task performance to antennal gene expression. Further, I aim to understand the regulatory mechanisms that control the division of labor in insect societies and how a potential sensory filter is dynamically regulated. By combining behavioral and molecular approaches, I will investigate the relationship between phenotypic plasticity and gene expression.


Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution
Ina Knuf
Hanns-Dieter-Hüsch-Weg 15
5518 Mainz
Tel.: +49 6131 39 27853
Fax: +49 6131 39 27850