Wood ant queen has no egg-laying monopoly

13.10.2015 | 15:48

he reproductive monopoly of the ant queen is not as strong as is often thought. Dr Heikki Helanterä and Prof Lotta Sundström, biologists working at the University of Helsinki, Finland, investigated worker ovary development and egg laying in nine Northern European wood ant species of the genus Formica, and revealed wide spread reproductive endeavours by workers. For example, in species such as Formica cinerea, Formica pratensis, and Formica truncorum approximately one in five workers is fully equipped to lay eggs. Furthermore, genetic analysis of egg parentage showed that these workers are really laying eggs on a large scale. For example in the species with the most worker reproduction, Formica truncorum, as many as one in four of eggs are indeed laid by the workers

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