Eusocial Evolution and the Recognition Systems in Social Insects

  • Michelle O. Krasnec
  • Michael D. Breed
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 739)


Eusocial species, animals which live in colonies with a reproductive division of labor, typically have closed societies, in which colony members are allowed entry and nonmembers, including animals of the same species, are excluded. This implies an ability to discriminate colony members (“self”) from nonmembers (“nonself”). We draw analogies between this type of discrimination and MHC-mediated cellular recognition in vertebrates. Recognition of membership in eusocial colonies is typically mediated by differences in the surface chemistry between members and nonmembers and we review studies which support this hypothesis. In rare instances, visual signals mediate recognition. We highlight the need for better understanding of which surface compounds actually mediate recognition and for further work on how differences between colony members and nonmembers are perceived.


Social Insect Cuticular Hydrocarbon Colony Member Nestmate Recognition Paper Wasp 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyThe University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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