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Lack of inbreeding avoidance in the Argentine ant Linepithema humile
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Although workers might increase their inclusive fitness by favoring closer over more distant kin, evidence suggest that nepotism generally does not occur within colonies of social insects. It has been suggested that this may be due to the cost of recognition errors. We tested whether recognition occurs in a system where a better than random ability to recognize kin should be selected for. Using DNA microsatellites, we show that sexuals of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile fail to use genetic cues to avoid sib-mating. When offspring of two queens were allowed to mate, the percentage of matings among siblings was not significantly lower than expected under the hypothesis of random mating. The finding that sexuals fail to use genetic cues to avoid sib-matings cannot be attributed to the cost of recognition errors because any recognition system that would lead to a better than random ability to avoid sib-mating should be selected for when there are costs to inbreeding. These data are thus consistent with the view that kin recognition mediated solely by genetic cues might be intrinsically error prone within colonies of social insects.
argentine ants inbreeding kin recognition linepithema humile recognition errors sib-mating solenopsis-invicta hymenoptera honeybees apis-mellifera multiple-queen colonies kin recognition fire ant iridomyrmex-humilis discrimination relatedness population formicidae
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