Mating Suppression by Hymenopteran Queens

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Cuticular hydrocarbons are used as mating signals in many groups of insects and recognition of nest mates in social insects. In many species of social Hymenoptera (Wasps, Bees and Ants) the queen produces a substance that suppresses the reproductive system of workers. A group of scientists* investigated the cuticular hydrocarbons from a species of ant, a bee and a wasp for activity as queen pheromones.

In all the Hymenoptera they investigated, cuticular hydrocarbons suppressed development of the reproductive systems and the active hydrocarbons were structurally similar. Additionally, they collected reports of queen substance and cuticular hydrocarbons in other Hymenoptera and found structural similarities in cuticular hydrocarbons throughout the Hymenoptera in both social and asocial species.

Sociality has evolved multiple times in the Hymenoptera. This new evidence suggests that the chemicals used for reproductive suppression evolved from cuticular hydrocarbons in use for communications. Cuticular hydrocarbons are a complex mixture of chemicals. Advances in their analysis and synthesis are leading to a better understanding of communication in social insects.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, Biomaterials, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

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