Cooperation, Conflict, and the Evolution of Queen Pheromones

Sarah D. Kocher, Christina M. Grozinger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While chemical communication regulates individual behavior in a wide variety of species, these communication systems are most elaborated in insect societies. In these complex systems, pheromones produced by the reproductive individuals (queens) are critical in establishing and maintaining dominant reproductive status over hundreds to thousands of workers. The proximate and ultimate mechanisms by which these intricate pheromone communication systems evolved are largely unknown, though there has been much debate over whether queen pheromones function as a control mechanism or as an honest signal facilitating cooperation. Here, we summarize results from recent studies in honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, ants and termites. We further discuss evolutionary mechanisms by which queen pheromone communication systems may have evolved. Overall, these studies suggest that queen-worker pheromone communication is a multi-component, labile dialog between the castes, rather than a simple, fixed signal-response system. We also discuss future approaches that can shed light on the proximate and ultimate mechanisms that underlie these complex systems by focusing on the development of increasingly sophisticated genomic tools and their potential applications to examine the molecular mechanisms that regulate pheromone production and perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1263-1275
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Volume37
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

Fingerprint

queen pheromones
Pheromones
pheromone
pheromones
communications technology
queen insects
Communication
Communication systems
Bees
insect colonies
bee
Large scale systems
Bombus
communication (human)
Isoptera
communication
honey bees
Wasps
reproductive status
Formicidae

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

Cite this

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Cooperation, Conflict, and the Evolution of Queen Pheromones. / Kocher, Sarah D.; Grozinger, Christina M.

In: Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 37, No. 11, 01.11.2011, p. 1263-1275.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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