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Nature versus nurture in social insect caste determination
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Recent evidence for genetic effects on royal and worker caste differentiation from diverse social insect taxa has put an end to the view that these phenotypes stem solely from a developmental switch controlled by environmental factors. Instead, the relative influences of genotypic and environmental effects on caste vary among species, ranging from largely environmentally controlled phenotypes to almost purely genetic systems. Disentangling the selective forces that generate variation for caste predisposition will require characterizing the genetic mechanisms underlying this variation, and identifying particular life-history strategies and kin structures associated with strong genetic effects on caste.
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