The behavior and reproductive physiology of a solitary progressive provisioning vespid wasp : evidence for a solitary-cycle origin of reproductive castes

Kelstrup, Hans C. ; Hartfelder, Klaus ; Lopes, Tiago Falcon ; Wossler, Theresa C. (2018-01-05)

CITATION: Kelstrup, H. C., et al. 2018. The behavior and reproductive physiology of a solitary progressive provisioning vespid wasp : evidence for a solitary-cycle origin of reproductive castes. American Naturalist, 191(2):E27–E39, doi:10.1086/695336.

The original publication is available at https://www.journals.uchicago.edu

Article

The emergence of queens and workers from solitary antecedents mark a major evolutionary transition in the history of life. The solitary progressive provisioning wasp Synagris cornuta, a member of the subfamily Eumeninae (basal to eusocial vespid wasps), alternates between behavioral states characterized as queenlike and worker-like. Akin to a queen in eusocial wasps, a S. cornuta female initiates construction of a cell into which she oviposits and then, similar to a worker, cares for the brood as it develops. The ovarian groundplan (OGP) hypothesis for caste origins predicts that these behavioral states are associated with cyclical changes in ovarian status, where females performing queenlike tasks have eggs and those performing worker-like tasks possess only small oocytes. Our findings show strong support for the OGP hypothesis: the ovaries of S. cornuta females undergo differential oogenesis depending on the behavioral phase: the largest oocyte in the ovaries of females building a cell progresses faster compared to that of females attending brood. Yet contrary to the OGP hypothesis, neither juvenile hormone nor ecdysteroids is associated with the reproductive cycle. Finally, the cuticular hydrocarbon profile showed no link with ovarian status, suggesting that fertility signals evolved subsequent to the emergence of group living.

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