Regulation of reproduction in a queenless ant: Aggression, pheromones and reduction in conflict

Virginie Cuvillier-Hot, Raghavendra Gadagkar, Christian Peeters, Matthew Cobb

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In the monogynous queenless ant Diacamma ceylonense, the future reproductive (future gamergate) is very aggressive towards infertile workers during the first days of her adult life. Overt aggression disappears at about three weeks, when the future gamergate begins to lay male-destined eggs and is ready to mate. Over the same period, her cuticular hydrocarbon profile alters, changing from a chemical signature similar to that of a sterile worker towards that of a gamergate. In nature, these behavioural and chemical changes will coincide with a reduction in conflict within the nest: faced with a virgin future gamergate, infertile workers have an interest in producing male-destined eggs; however, once the gamergate produces female eggs, they have an interest in rearing her offspring. This demonstration of a shift from physical inhibition to chemical signalling is interpreted in terms of sociogenetic theory, the role of cuticular hydrocarbons as an indicator of fertility in insects and the fact that the regulation of reproduction in Diacamma involves mechanisms redolent of both queenless and queenright ant species.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1295-1300
    Number of pages5
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1497
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2002


    • Chemical signalling
    • Cuticular hydrocarbons
    • Diacamma
    • Gamergate
    • Reproductive conflict


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