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Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 77–84 | Cite as

Lipid stores, ovary development, and brain gene expression in Polistes metricus females

  • A. L. Toth
  • K. B. J. Bilof
  • M. T. Henshaw
  • J. H. Hunt
  • G. E. RobinsonEmail author
Research article

Abstract.

In order to gain insights into the mechanistic basis of caste and behavioral differences in Polistes paper wasps, we examined abdominal lipid stores and ovary development in Polistes metricus females in four groups: foundresses, queens, workers, and gynes. Queens had the largest ovaries, followed by foundresses, workers, and gynes. Gynes had 6x higher lipid stores than the other groups, and lipid stores were lower in foragers (foundresses, workers) than non-foragers (queens, gynes). Lipid levels and ovary development were negatively correlated across the four groups, but removing gynes from the analysis revealed a significant positive correlation for foundresses, workers, and queens, suggesting different energy allocation strategies for gynes vs. other groups. Expression levels of 9 genes (including three in the insulin pathway), examined in a previous study, correlated with either lipid stores or ovary development. These correlative results suggest important relationships between nutrition, reproduction, and division of labor in primitively social insects. We also show that it is possible to assign P. metricus females to one of the four female groups on the basis of wing wear (an indicator of foraging experience), lipid stores, and ovary development, which can facilitate caste-specific collections for future studies.

Keywords:

Polistes metricus ovary development caste nutrition foraging behavior gene expression 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. L. Toth
    • 1
  • K. B. J. Bilof
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. T. Henshaw
    • 3
  • J. H. Hunt
    • 4
  • G. E. Robinson
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Entomology and Institute for Genomic BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignU.S.A
  2. 2.College of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of Missouri at ColumbiaColumbiaU.S.A
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentGrand Valley State UniversityAllendaleU.S.A
  4. 4.Departments of Entomology and Biology, and W. M. Keck Center for Behavioral BiologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighU.S.A
  5. 5.Neuroscience ProgramUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignU.S.A

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