, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 55-63
Date: 25 Oct 2008

Complex sociogenetic organization and the origin of unrelated workers in a eusocial sweat bee, Lasioglossum malachurum

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Abstract.

Sweat bees (Halictidae) exhibit great interspecific and intraspecific diversity in their social organisation, yet there is remarkably little information on the sociogenetic organisation of any species. Lasioglossum malachurum is a eusocial sweat bee with an annual lifecycle that exhibits considerable variation in its social organisation across its wide geographic range from northern to southern Europe. We collected all adults from 31 L. malachurum nests at Eichkogl, Austria, near the latitudinal centre of its distribution, and genotyped 148 workers using 5 highly variable microsatellite loci developed for this species. Nests were often queenless (48% of nests) during the second phase of worker activity, when colonies were provisioning the sexual brood. Pedigree reconstruction and estimates of nestmate genetic relatedness demonstrated that nests often (32% of nests) contained alien workers, probably as a result of worker drifting from their natal to a foreign nest. Queen effective mating frequency was variable (harmonic mean me = 1.24), but sometimes high (maximum 2.7). These data demonstrate that nests of L. malachurum do not have a classical eusocial sociogenetic organisation (monogyny, monandry) and thereby pose a challenge to exclusively relatedness based arguments for the evolution of eusociality in the taxon.