Polyandry in hymenopteran social insects is surprisingly rare, despite its likely colony-level fitness benefits. However, a male’s fitness may be at odds with that of a colony if his genetic representation within it is diluted by the queen’s multiple mating. Males may yet triumph in the resultant conflict by limiting female re-mating via secretions of their accessory glands. If so, an evolutionary transition from single to multiple mating would likely be accompanied with a change in the morphology of the accessory glands. The link between male accessory gland morphology and the evolution of polyandry was tested in the fungus gardening ants. The evolution of polyandry within this clade corresponds to the loss of male accessory glands, as would be expected if males control the mating system by monopolizing females. The role of attine male accessory glands in repressing polyandry was further supported by their high chemical similarity to known bumblebee ‘mating plugs’ (the same four fatty acids account for >90% of either secretion’s mass). Similar patterns may be common in other social insects, given the pervasiveness of accessory glands in this taxon and the apparent conservation of their chemical composition.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae (Fungus gardening ants)
Species 2: Hymenoptera Formicidae Solenopsis invicta (Red imported fire ant)
Keywords: accessory glands, mating plugs
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