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Open AccessArticle

Queen Recognition Signals in Two Primitively Eusocial Halictid Bees: Evolutionary Conservation and Caste-Specific Perception

Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics, University of Ulm, 89069 Ulm, Germany
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Insects 2019, 10(12), 416; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10120416
Received: 25 October 2019 / Revised: 14 November 2019 / Accepted: 18 November 2019 / Published: 21 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Semiochemicals and Insect Behavior)
Queen signals are known to regulate reproductive harmony within eusocial colonies by influencing worker behavior and ovarian physiology. However, decades of research have resulted in the identification of just a few queen signals, and studies of their mode of action are rare. Our aim was to identify queen recognition signals in the halictid bee Lasioglossum pauxillum and to analyze caste differences in the olfactory perception of queen signals in L. pauxillum and the closely related species L. malachurum. We performed chemical analyses and bioassays to test for caste differences in chemical profiles and worker behavior influenced by queen-specific compounds in L. pauxillum. Our results indicated that caste differences in the chemical profiles were mainly attributable to higher amounts of macrocyclic lactones in queens. Bioassays demonstrated a higher frequency of subordinate behavior in workers elicited by queen-specific amounts of macrocyclic lactones. Thus, macrocyclic lactones function as queen recognition signals in L. pauxillum, as in L. malachurum. Using electrophysiological analyses, we have demonstrated that queens of both tested species lack antennal reactions to certain macrocyclic lactones. Therefore, we assume that this is a mechanism to prevent reproductive self-inhibition in queens. Our results should stimulate debate on the conservation and mode of action of queen signals. View Full-Text
Keywords: chemical communication; sweat bees; queen signals; Halictidae; queen control vs. queen signal hypothesis chemical communication; sweat bees; queen signals; Halictidae; queen control vs. queen signal hypothesis
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Steitz, I.; Brandt, K.; Biefel, F.; Minat, Ä.; Ayasse, M. Queen Recognition Signals in Two Primitively Eusocial Halictid Bees: Evolutionary Conservation and Caste-Specific Perception. Insects 2019, 10, 416.

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