Elizabeth Cash

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874601
Tempe, AZ 85287-4601

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Research Interests

As a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Jürgen Gadau, I am researching chemical communication in the red-harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus. My present contemplation of chemical compounds, genes, and behaviors converge on the following question: How do social insects develop and communicate a colony-specific nestmate recognition signal?

My approach to this question involves a combination of the following disciplinary techniques: comparative genomics (to study the evolution of gene families involved in nestmate recognition signals), chemical ecology (to characterize the ontogeny and variation in chemical nestmate recognition signals, e.g. cuticular hydrocarbons), behavioral ecology (to assess “recognition” behaviors, e.g. aggression), and genetics (to identify specific genes involved in nestmate recognition signals). With this set of tools I aim to identify both proximate and ultimate causal factors leading to eusocial insect nestmate recognition.


Helmkampf, M.†, Cash, E.†, and Gadau, J. (2014). Evolution of the insect desaturase gene family with an emphasis on social Hymenoptera. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32, 456-471. †These authors contributed equally to this work.

Simola, D. F., …Cash, E. (18/38 authors), …Gadau, J. (2013). Social insect genomes exhibit dramatic evolution in gene composition and regulation while preserving regulatory features linked to sociality. Genome Research DOI: 10.1101/gr.155408.113

Gibson, J.D., Niehuis, O., Peirson, B.R.E., Cash, E.I., and Gadau, J. (2013). Genetic and developmental basis of F2 hybrid breakdown in Nasonia. Evolution DOI: 10.1111/evo.12080

Smith, C. D., …Cash, E. (6/50 authors), …Tsutsui, N. D. (2011). The draft genome of the globally widespread and invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, 5673-5678.

Smith, C. R., …Cash, E. (11/45 authors), …Gadau, J. (2011). A draft genome of the red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus: a model for reproductive division of labor and social complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, 5667-5672.

Suen, G., …Cash, E. (9/49 authors), …Currie, C. R. (2011). The genome sequence of the leaf-cutter ant Atta cephalotes reveals insights into its obligate symbiotic lifestyle. PLoS Genetics 7, e1002007.