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Cuticular hydrocarbons as caste-linked cues in Neotropical swarm-founding wasps

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Wasps (Vespidae) are important organisms to understand the evolution of social behaviour. Wasps show different levels of sociality, which includes solitary to highly eusocial organisms. In social insect species, queens and workers differ in physiology and morphology. The Neotropical swarm-founding wasps (Epiponini) show a variety of caste syndromes. In this clade, the caste-flexibility is a unique characteristic, in which workers can become queens and swarm to start a new nest. The investigation of the caste system comparing several Epiponini species show a clear-cut morphological distinction between queens and workers, with a morphological continuum between queens and workers. However, whether cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are used as cues for caste recognition in swarm-founding wasps is still unknown. We studied whether CHCs may display caste-linked differences in eleven species of Epiponini wasps and if CHCs differences would follow morphological patterns. Our results suggest that queens and workers of Epiponini wasps are chemically different from each other at two levels, qualitatively and quantitatively, or merely quantitatively. This variation seems to exist regardless of their morphological traits and may be useful to help us understanding how chemical communication evolved differently in these species.
Tijdschrift: PeerJ
ISSN: 2167-8359
Volume: 10
Jaar van publicatie:2022