Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wood Ant Queen Has No Egg-laying Monopoly

Date:
July 3, 2007
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Insect queens were thought to have an egg-laying monopoly, but nine wood ant species revealed widespread reproductive activity by worker ants. Genetic analysis showed that as many as one in four eggs were laid by workers. Workers in many insect species can lay unfertilized male eggs, but usually workers in large colonies enforce the exclusive reproduction of the queen.

The reproductive monopoly of the ant queen is not as strong as is often thought. Dr. Heikki Helanterä and Prof. Lotta Sundström, biologists working at the University of Helsinki, Finland, investigated worker ovary development and egg laying in nine Northern European wood ant species of the genus Formica, and revealed wide spread reproductive endeavours by workers.

For example, in species such as Formica cinerea, Formica pratensis, and Formica truncorum approximately one in five workers is fully equipped to lay eggs. Furthermore, genetic analysis of egg parentage showed that these workers are really laying eggs on a large scale. For example in the species with the most worker reproduction, Formica truncorum, as many as one in four of eggs are indeed laid by the workers.

The ability of workers to lay unfertilized male eggs even if they cannot mate is widespread in social insects, such as bees, wasps, and ants. However, worker reproduction as frequent as observed in Formica is exceptional, especially in colonies this large. Wood ant colonies range in size from several hundred to hundreds of thousands of workers, and usually species whose colonies are this big, such as honey bees and leaf cutter ants, have very little worker reproduction. This is because the majority of the workers favor the queen as the egg layer, and prevent reproduction by egg laying workers. When the worker control is effective, egg laying workers do not gain any reproductive benefits, and over the course of evolution may give up trying to reproduce almost completely.

"It is obvious that such surrender has not taken place in wood ants," says Heikki Helanterä, currently at University of Sheffield, UK, "the big questions are then why are the workers so persistently trying, and how does this ongoing conflict over reproduction affect colony functioning as a whole."

Reference: Heikki Helanterä and Liselotte Sundström, "Worker reproduction in Formica ants" (open access), The American Naturalist (2007) 170:E14--E25 DOI: 10.1086/518185


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Wood Ant Queen Has No Egg-laying Monopoly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070628162740.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2007, July 3). Wood Ant Queen Has No Egg-laying Monopoly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070628162740.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Wood Ant Queen Has No Egg-laying Monopoly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070628162740.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins