Ergatoid queen development in the ant Myrmecina nipponica

Modular and heterochronic regulation of caste differentiation

Satoshi Miyazaki, Takahiro Murakami, Takuya Kubo, Noriko Azuma, Seigo Higashi, Toru Miura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Caste polyphenism in social insects provides us with excellent opportunities to examine the plasticity and robustness underlying developmental pathways. Several ant species have evolved unusual castes showing intermediate morphologies between alate queens and wingless workers. In some low-temperature habitats, the ant Myrmecina nipponica produces such intermediate reproductives (i.e. ergatoids), which can mate and store sperm but cannot fly. To gain insight into the developmental and evolutionary aspects associated with ergatoid production, we conducted morphological and histological examinations of the post-embryonic development of compound eyes, gonads and wings during the process of caste differentiation. In compound eyes, both the queen-worker and ergatoid-worker differences were already recognized at the third larval instar. In gonads, queen-worker differentiation began at the larval stage, and ergatoid-worker differentiation began between the prepupal and pupal stages. Wing development in ergatoids was generally similar to that in workers throughout post-embryonic development. Our results showed that the developmental rate and timing of differentiation in body parts differed among castes and among body parts. These differences suggest that the rearrangement of modular body parts by heterochronic developmental regulation is responsible for the origination of novel castes, which are considered to be adaptations to specific ecological niches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1961
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume277
Issue number1690
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 7 2010
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

caste determination
Ants
caste
queen insects
Social Class
ant
Formicidae
compound eyes
Human Body
gonads
embryogenesis
Plasticity
embryonic development
Gonads
social insects
Embryonic Development
niches
instars
spermatozoa
social insect

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Ergatoid queen development in the ant Myrmecina nipponica : Modular and heterochronic regulation of caste differentiation. / Miyazaki, Satoshi; Murakami, Takahiro; Kubo, Takuya; Azuma, Noriko; Higashi, Seigo; Miura, Toru.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 277, No. 1690, 07.07.2010, p. 1953-1961.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Miyazaki, Satoshi ; Murakami, Takahiro ; Kubo, Takuya ; Azuma, Noriko ; Higashi, Seigo ; Miura, Toru. / Ergatoid queen development in the ant Myrmecina nipponica : Modular and heterochronic regulation of caste differentiation. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2010 ; Vol. 277, No. 1690. pp. 1953-1961.
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