Scent of a queen-cuticular hydrocarbons specific for female reproductives in lower termites

Autor(en): Weil, Tobias
Hoffmann, Katharina
Kroiss, Johannes
Strohm, Erhard
Korb, Judith
Stichwörter: ANT; Chemical communication; CUES; Cuticular hydrocarbons; FERTILITY; Fertility signals; ISOPTERA-RHINOTERMITIDAE; Multidisciplinary Sciences; Queen signal; Science & Technology - Other Topics; SIGNAL; Termites
Erscheinungsdatum: 2009
Herausgeber: SPRINGER
Volumen: 96
Ausgabe: 2
Startseite: 315
Seitenende: 319
In social insects, it is assumed that signals of the queen inform nestmates about her reproductive status. Thus, workers forego their own reproduction if the queen signals high fertility. In hemimetabolous termites, little is known about reproductive inhibition, but evidence exists for a royal-pair control. Workers of lower termites exhibit a high developmental flexibility and are potentially able to become reproductives, but the presence of a fertile reproductive restrains them from reaching sexual maturity. The nature of this control, however, remains unknown. Here, we report on qualitative differences in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles between queens and workers of the basal drywood termite Cryptotermes secundus. Queens were characterized by a shift to long-chained and branched hydrocarbons. Most remarkably, similar chemical patterns are regarded as fertility cues of reproductives in social Hymenoptera. This might suggest that both groups of social insects convergently evolved similar chemical signatures. The present study provides deeper insights into how termites might have socially exploited these signatures from sexual communication in their cockroach-like ancestor.
ISSN: 00281042
DOI: 10.1007/s00114-008-0475-8

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