Environmental and genetic influences on queen and worker body size in the social wasp Vespula maculifrons
Abbreviated Journal Title
Caste; Heritability; Phenotypic plasticity; Polyandry; Social insects; DIVISION-OF-LABOR; LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS; PHENOTYPIC PLASTICITY; APIS-MELLIFERA; DROSOPHILA POPULATIONS; MICROSATELLITE LOCI; CASTE; POLYMORPHISM; SEXUAL SELECTION; HARVESTER ANT; HYMENOPTERA; Entomology
Many social insects exhibit morphologically distinct worker and queen castes that perform different functions. These functional differences may generate unique selection regimes operating on body size. For example, queens may be under directional selection for large body size, whereas directional selection on worker body size may be limited. Such contrasting selection pressures may differentially affect levels of genetic variation associated with size variation in the two castes. This study sought to determine if genetic effects underlying phenotypic differences varied between the worker and queen castes of the social wasp Vespula maculifrons. We predicted that directional selection would remove genetic variation associated with size differences in the queen caste, whereas a lack of directional selection would tend to maintain genetic variation associated with size differences in the worker caste. We thus (1) calculated broad and narrow sense heritabilities for several morphological traits, (2) examined whether some paternal genotypes produced more morphologically diverse offspring than others, and (3) determined whether trait size variation was associated with genetic variation within colonies. We found that few morphological traits were significantly heritable, indicating that little genetic variance for those traits existed within our study population. We also found that some patrilines produced more morphologically variable offspring than others, suggesting a role of genotype in phenotypic plasticity. And finally, no significant correlations between genetic diversity arising from multiple mating by queens within colonies and trait variation in either caste were found. Overall, our findings indicate a weak effect of genotype on both worker and queen body size variation and are suggestive of a large environmental influence on morphological trait size. Moreover, our results do not indicate that levels of genetic variation underlying size variation differ substantially between castes in this species.
"Environmental and genetic influences on queen and worker body size in the social wasp Vespula maculifrons" (2010). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 383.