Multiple male and female reproductive strategies and the presence of a polyandric mating system in the termite Reticulitermes labralis (Isoptera:Rhinotermitidae)

Jia Wu, Xiaohong Su, Xiaohong Kong, Minghua Liu, Lianxi Xing

Abstract


Reproductive systems of termite colonies may involve the number of individuals in the reproductive caste and the copulatory selectivity of reproductive individuals (i.e., polyandry or polygamy), both of which directly impact the fertility and genetic diversity of the colony. Polygamy is widespread in the lower termites, whereas polyandry appears to be mostly absent in termites. In this paper, the differentiation of male and female neotenics were observed in orphaned experimental colonies of the subterranean termite Reticulitermes labralis. The artificial orphaned colonies began to produce neotenics a week after colony establishing, with more neotenics appearing in the same group over time. Finally, each experimental group reserved multi-neotenics that consisted of male and female neotenic individuals. Our results demonstrated that these neotenic individuals retained in the colony participated in reproduction. A genetic analysis at four microsatellite loci showed that in addition to the conspicuous morphologically male reproductives, there were inconspicuous males or workers that had copulated with the females in the orphaned colony. Multiple male and female reproductive individuals existed together in a single colony, and one female neotenic could mate with several male reproductives in a short time. Thus, multiple male and female reproductive systems and a polyandric mating system are present in R. labralis.

Keywords


subterranean termite; neotenics; reproductive system; polyandry; microsatellite

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v60i4.459-465

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