Jürgen Liebig

Associate Professor
Juergen Liebig
Phone: (480) 727-8508
Office: ISTB1 306
Education: Dr. rer. nat, 1998, University of Würzburg
Curriculum Vitae: PDF icon liebig_j_cv.pdf

Juergen Liebig studies the organization of insect societies. In the past, he primarily worked to decipher behavioral interactions and chemical signaling involved in the regulation of reproduction within ant, wasp, and termite colonies.

Liebig is currently extending his research focus to questions about the molecular basis of ant and termite social organization, olfactory communication, as well as other aspects of behavioral and developmental plasticity. This approach is based on the availability of the draft genomes of two ant and one termite species he helped to obtain.

Liebig and his group are further extending their research through collaborations that focus on studying changes in gene expression that aren't caused by changes in an organism's DNA sequence (called epigenetics), and how such mechanisms may contribute to shaping ant and termite societies.

Select Publications

  • Moore D, Liebig J, 2013. Reproductive restraint without policing in early stages of a social insect colony. Animal Behaviour 85: 1323-1328
  • Penick CA, Liebig J, 2012. Regulation of queen development through worker aggression in a predatory ant. Behavioral Ecology 23: 992-998
  • Bonasio R, Zhang G, Ye C, Mutti NS, Fang X, Qin N, Donahue G, Yang P, Li Q, Li C, Zhang P, Huang Z, Berger SL, Reinberg D, Wang J, Liebig J, 2010. Genomic comparison of the ants Camponotus floridanus and Harpegnathos saltator. Science 329: 1068-1071
  • Liebig J, Eliyahu D, Brent C, 2009. Cuticular hydrocarbon profiles indicate reproductive status in the termite Zootermopsis nevadensis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63:1799-1807
  • Smith AA, Hölldobler B, Liebig J, 2009. Cuticular hydrocarbons reliably identify cheaters and allow enforcement of altruism in a social insect. Current Biology 19:78-81


  • Ant
    A worker of the ant Harpegnathos saltator. This species shows an incredible behavioral and developmental plasticity which makes it, together with other features, a very suitable genetic model system of a social insect.