No, this posting isn’t an Aesopian fable, it’s a note on our Emerging Model Organisms featured in July’s issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. This month we’re covering Ants (Formicidae) and the The Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta.

Painted Turtles have been the subject of study in many areas, including their buoyancy system, the trade-offs between offspring size and number, the ability to “overwinter”, the reptilian lymphatic system, and as an example of temperature dependent sex determination. Nicole Valenzuela from Iowa State University provides The Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta: A Model System for Vertebrate Evolution, Ecology, and Human Health, along with a protocol for Egg Incubation and Collection of Painted Turtle Embryos.

Like many other organisms included in this series, it’s probably a misnomer to refer to ants as an “emerging model organism” as they’ve long been a key species for studying ecology, evolution, behavior, and development. Chris Smith and colleagues provide Ants (Formicidae): Models for Social Complexity, which gives an overview of ants as a model system. Protocols are available for colony sampling, marking individual ants, ecological sampling, stable isotope and elemental analysis, fat extraction, dissection, DNA isolation, hormone extraction, ecdysteroid extraction and radioimmunoassay, assay of hormone biosynthesis, GC-MS for characterization of semiochemicals, in situ hybridization, and phase-unknown linkage mapping. They’ve also supplied this month’s cover, and we made an extra effort to make sure we used an appropriate species.