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Keywords:

  • Dorylinae;
  • Dorylus (Anomma) molestus;
  • eusociality;
  • Formicidae;
  • Hymenoptera;
  • reproductive conflict;
  • worker policing;
  • worker sterility

Abstract

In most social insects workers do not mate, but have retained the ability to produce haploid eggs that can develop into viable male offspring. Under what circumstances this reproductive potential is realized and how the ensuing worker–queen conflict over male production is resolved, is an area of active research in insect sociobiology. Here we present microsatellite data for 176 males from eight colonies of the African army ant Dorylus (Anomma) molestus. Comparison with worker genotypes and inferred queen genotypes from the same colonies show that workers do not or at best very rarely reproduce in the presence of the queen. Queens of D. (A.) molestus are known to be highly multiply mated. This implies that workers are on average more closely related to queen sons than to other workers’ sons, so that our results are consistent with predictions from inclusive fitness theory. It remains unknown, however, whether worker sterility is maintained by active worker policing or by self-restraint.