EvoDevo is a rapidly emerging synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology and one of the "hot topics" in the life sciences. One focus of EvoDevo is to investigate the evolutionary consequences of developmental mechanisms, thereby, as is often argued, completing the Modern Synthesis. A lot of research in EvoDevo is triggered by recent advances in developmental genetics, such as the discovery of the conserved nature of Hox genes. However, EvoDevo still lacks a model system that combines the advantages of known developmental and molecular data with existing phenotypic variation on a phylogenetic scale AND the possibility of experimental manipulation. In this talk I will argue that Social Insects fit that bill and will develop an agenda for a future research program of Social Insects as a Model System for EvoDevo. I will argue that such a program can become the foundation of an experimental and theoretical research program that allows for more direct inferences than the traditional models systems and problems, such as the fin-limb transition in basal tetrapods.
Manfred Laubichler is Assistant Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology in the School of Life Sciences and Affiliated Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University. He studied zoology, philosophy, and mathematics in Vienna (MSc), biology at Yale (PhD), and History at Princeton. Laubichler is a counselling scientist of the KLI and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He is an associate editor of Biological Theory and the Journal of Experimental Zoology, Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution.