Worker interests and male production in Polistes gallicus, a Mediterranean social wasp

Joan E. Strassmann, J. S. Nguyen, E. Arévalo, R. Cervo, F. Zacchi, S. Turillazzi, D. C. Queller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The resolution of social conflict in colonies may accord with the interests of the most numerous party. In social insect colonies with single once-mated queens, workers are more closely related to the workers' sons than they are to the queens' sons. Therefore, they should prefer workers to produce males, against the queen's interests. Workers are capable of producing males as they arise from unfertilized eggs. We found Polistes gallicus to have colonies of single, once-mated queens, as determined by microsatellite genotyping of the workers, so worker interests predict worker male production. In colonies lacking queens, workers produced the males, but not in colonies with original queens. Thus worker interests were expressed only when the queen was gone. The high fraction of missing queens and early end to the colony cycle relative to climate so early in the season is surprising and may indicate a forceful elimination of the queen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Genetic conflict
  • Hymenoptera
  • Male production
  • Microsatellites
  • Polistes Vespidae
  • Social behaviour


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