The evolution of thelytoky in social insects: an opportunity for workers to rewind the tape of social evolution or for queens to avoid sex?
Dr Claudie Doums, Institut de SYstématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB)
Amphithéâtre Monge, à 11 heures
The evolutionary paradox of sex remains one of the major debates in evolutionary biology. The study of species capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction can elucidate factors important in the evolution of sex. Additional complexities arise when trying to understand the evolution of thelytoky in social insect species, because thelytoky can be used not only by queens but also by workers and, furthermore, can be used to produce either queens or workers. The evolutionary selective pressures behind thelytoky can therefore be diverse with the costs and benefits of thelytoky depending on the social context. When thelytoky can be used by workers, this allows them to produce replacement queens (i.e. requeening) if the queen has died, but also to compete with the queen to produce females (i.e. reproductive cheating). Worker thelytoky opens the way to potential conflicts for reproduction. Individual and colonial level of selection therefore act in concert for driving the evolution of worker thelytoky. Based on field data collected over many years and different experiments, we investigate the extent of worker and queen use of thelytoky and of the potential conflicts associated with thelytoky for a better understanding of the selective forces driving the evolution of thelytoky in the ant Cataglyphis cursor.