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.

Related Articles


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 March 30, 2015 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 March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) — A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

Vietnam Rice Boom Piles Pressure on Farmers and the Environment

AFP (Mar. 29, 2015) — Vietnam&apos;s drive to become the world&apos;s leading rice exporter is pushing farmers in the fertile Mekong Delta to the brink, say experts, with mounting costs to the environment. Duration: 02:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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