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Keywords:

  • diploid males;
  • inbreeding;
  • microsatellite markers;
  • parasitoid;
  • single locus complementary sex determination

Abstract

Inbreeding occurs in numerous animal and plant species. In haplodiploid hymenopterans with the widespread single locus complementary sex determination, the frequency of diploid males, which are produced at the expense of females, is increased under inbreeding. Diploid males in species of bees, ants and wasps are typically either unviable or effectively sterile and thus impose a severe genetic load on populations. However, a recent study indicated that diploid males can be reproductive in the gregarious parasitoid wasp Cotesia glomerata, effectively reducing the diploid male load. To understand the role of inbreeding as a potential selective pressure towards the evolution of diploid male fertility, we genotyped specimens collected in the field at four locations using microsatellite markers to estimate the ratio of sibling matings under natural conditions. Results show that more than half of all matings involved siblings. We argue that the frequent occurrence of inbreeding has driven the evolution of diploid male fertility.