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Reproductive constraint is a developmental mechanism that maintains social harmony

Summary: Reproductive constraint is a developmental
mechanism that maintains social harmony
in advanced ant societies
Abderrahman Khila1
and Ehab Abouheif1
Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Avenue Docteur Penfield, MontreŽal, QC, Canada H3A 1B1
Edited by Gene E. Robinson, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, and approved October 7, 2008 (received for review July 29, 2008)
A hallmark of eusociality in ants is the reproductive division of
labor between queens and workers. Yet, nothing is known about
the molecular mechanisms underlying reproduction in this group.
We therefore compared the developmental genetic capacity of
queens and workers to reproduce in several eusocially advanced
species from the two largest subfamilies of ants, the Myrmicinae
and Formicinae. In flies, the asymmetric localization of maternally
encoded determinants (mRNAs and proteins) during oogenesis
establishes oocyte polarity and subsequently ensures proper em-
bryonic development. Vasa and nanos, two key maternal deter-
minants, are properly localized in the posterior of queen oocytes,
but their localization is impaired in those of the workers. This
mislocalization leads to severe embryonic defects in worker prog-


Source: Abouheif, Ehab - Department of Biology, McGill University
Rowe, Locke - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology