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Genetic components to caste allocation in a multiple-queen ant species.

Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01348.x


Reproductive division of labor and the coexistence of distinct castes are hallmarks of insect societies. In social insect species with multiple queens per colony, the fitness of nestmate queens directly depends on the process of caste allocation (i.e., the relative investment in queen, sterile worker and male production). The aim of this study is to investigate the genetic components to the process of caste allocation in a multiple-queen ant species. We conducted controlled crosses in the Argentine ant Linepithema humile and established single-queen colonies to identify maternal and paternal family effects on the relative production of new queens, workers, and males. There were significant effects of parental genetic backgrounds on various aspects of caste allocation: the paternal lineage affected the proportion of queens and workers produced whereas the proportions of queens and males, and females and males were influenced by the interaction between parental lineages. In addition to revealing nonadditive genetic effects on female caste determination in a multiple-queen ant species, this study reveals strong genetic compatibility effects between parental genomes on caste allocation components.

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