Article: article from journal or magazin.
Mating frequency of ant queens with alternative dispersal strategies, as revealed by microsatellite analysis of sperm
In social Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps), the number of males that mate with the same queen affects social and genetic organization of the colony. However, the selective forces leading to single mating in certain conditions and multiple mating in others remain enigmatic. In this study, I investigated whether queens of the wood ant Formica paralugubris adopting different dispersal strategies varied in their mating frequency (the number of males with whom they mated). The frequency of multiple mating was determined by using microsatellite markers to genotype the sperm stored in the spermatheca of queens, and the validity of this method was confirmed by analysing mother-offspring combinations obtained from experimental single-queen colonies. Dispersing queens, which may found new colonies, did not mate with more males than queens that stayed within polygynous colonies, where the presence of numerous reproductive individuals ensured a high level of genetic diversity. Hence, this study provides no support to the hypotheses that multiple mating is beneficial because it increases genetic variability within colonies. Most of the F. paralugubris queens mated with a single male, whatever their dispersal strategy and life history. Moreover, multiple mating had little effect on colony genetic structure: the effective mating frequency was 1.11 when calculated from within-brood relatedness, and 1.13 when calculated from the number of mates detected in the sperm. Hence, occasional multiple mating by F. paralugubris queens may have no adaptive significance.
dispersal, Formica paralugubris, mating frequency, microsatellites, polyandry, social insects
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