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Ovarian developmental variation in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata suggests a gateway to worker ontogeny and the evolution of sociality

Shukla, Shantanu and Chandran, Swarnalatha and Gadagkar, Raghavendra (2013) Ovarian developmental variation in the primitively eusocial wasp Ropalidia marginata suggests a gateway to worker ontogeny and the evolution of sociality. In: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, 216 (2). pp. 181-187.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.073148

Abstract

Social insects are characterized by reproductive caste differentiation of colony members into one or a small number of fertile queens and a large number of sterile workers. The evolutionary origin and maintenance of such sterile workers remains an enduring puzzle in insect sociobiology. Here, we studied ovarian development in over 600 freshly eclosed, isolated, virgin female Ropalidia marginata wasps, maintained in the laboratory. The wasps differed greatly both in the time taken to develop their ovaries and in the magnitude of ovarian development despite having similar access to resources. All females started with no ovarian development at day zero, and the percentage of individuals with at least one oocyte at any stage of development increased gradually across age, reached 100% at 100. days and decreased slightly thereafter. Approximately 40% of the females failed to develop ovaries within the average ecological lifespan of the species. Age, body size and adult feeding rate, when considered together, were the most important factors governing ovarian development. We suggest that such flexibility and variation in the potential and timing of reproductive development may physiologically predispose females to accept worker roles and thus provide a gateway to worker ontogeny and the evolution of sociality.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright for this article belongs to COMPANY OF BIOLOGISTS LTD, ENGLAND
Keywords: ovarian development;social wasp;caste differentiation;eusociality
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Francis Jayakanth
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2013 12:46
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2013 12:46
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/45686

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