*Zoologisches Institut II der Universität, Röntgenring 10, 8700 Würzburg, Germany.
The occurrence of sexual reproduction among ant workers
Article first published online: 14 JAN 2008
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume 44, Issue 2, pages 141–152, October 1991
How to Cite
PEETERS, C. (1991), The occurrence of sexual reproduction among ant workers. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 44: 141–152. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.1991.tb00612.x
- Issue published online: 14 JAN 2008
- Article first published online: 14 JAN 2008
- Received 15 March 1990, accepted for publication 30 April 1990
- worker mating;
In less than 100 species of ponerine ants, queens no longer exist and have been replaced by mated egg-laying workers. Workers in other subfamilies can lay haploid eggs when queens are removed, but they never reproduce sexually. Ponerine workers are able to mate because they have a spermatheca in most species, foreign males are sexually active near their nests, and their pygidial gland secretions can assume a sexual meaning. Furthermore, ponerine queens are seldom very fecund, and one or several gamergates are able to approximate their egg production. Finally, opportunities for colony fragmentation occur consequent to their life history, and this is a necessary precondition because gamergates cannot start new colonies independently. Many of these characteristics are associated with the limited caste divergence exhibited in this phylogenetically primitive group. Although a few non-ponerine species exhibit some of these preconditions, gamergates have not been found outside the Ponerinae, which alone exhibit the combination of traits leading to queen elimination and worker mating.