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Development and evolution of caste dimorphism in honeybees: a modeling approach
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2012 (English)In: Ecology and Evolution, ISSN 2045-7758, Vol. 2, no 12, 3098-3109 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The difference in phenotypes of queens and workers is a hallmark of the highly eusocial insects. The caste dimorphism is often described as a switch-controlled polyphenism, in which environmental conditions decide an individual's caste. Using theoretical modeling and empirical data from honeybees, we show that there is no discrete larval developmental switch. Instead, a combination of larval developmental plasticity and nurse worker feeding behavior make up a colony-level social and physiological system that regulates development and produces the caste dimorphism. Discrete queen and worker phenotypes are the result of discrete feeding regimes imposed by nurses, whereas a range of experimental feeding regimes produces a continuous range of phenotypes. Worker ovariole numbers are reduced through feeding-regime-mediated reduction in juvenile hormone titers, involving reduced sugar in the larval food. Based on the mechanisms identified in our analysis, we propose a scenario of the evolutionary history of honeybee development and feeding regimes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 2, no 12, 3098-3109 p.
Keyword [en]
Caste determination, developmental evolution, plasticity, polyphenism, social insects
National Category
Ecology Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87120DOI: 10.1002/ece3.414ISI: 000312453200014OAI: diva2:601546
Swedish Research Council, 621-2010-5437


Available from: 2013-01-29 Created: 2013-01-28 Last updated: 2013-04-29Bibliographically approved

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Leimar, Olof
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