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Evolution of mating systems in stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini)

Grant number: 12/11144-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2012
Effective date (End): July 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Animal Behavior
Principal Investigator:Vera Lucia Imperatriz-Fonseca
Grantee:Ayrton Vollet Neto
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


Although Meliponini queens mate with only one male (monandry), Apini queens mate with ca. of 10 to 20 males (polyandry), probably a derived condition in the evolutionary history of the eussocial bees. This high number of matings implies high costs to the queens (e.g. risks of predation and injuries by males, energetic expenditure, etc.), although the benefits are not still completely understood. There are evidences that the high genetic diversity among workers could increase the colonies' fitness in important activities such as temperature control and foraging. Other evidences are related to the complementary sex determination (CSD) system in Hymenoptera, so that the polyandry would have evolved as a way to decrease the costs imposed by the diploid male production. Indeed, multiple mating brings important consequences to the relatedness among colony members and, consequently, sets the stage for various reproductive conflicts. So, the evolution of mating systems is a very relevant aspect in behavioral and evolutionary ecology. The main goal of this project is to investigate the evolution of mating systems in Meliponini and we pose two questions: (I) what are the advantages of within-colony genetic diversity? and (II) why did not polyandry evolve in Meliponini? In order to answer the first question, we will experimentally simulate high genetic diversity relatedness among workers, mixing brood combs of Scaptotrigona depilis colonies and we will compare the performance (brood comb construction and thermoregulation) of these colonies with the performance of colonies with low genetic diversity - the natural condition. In order to answer the second question we will test the hypothesis related to the CSD system, which hypothesized that the mother queens producing diploid males tend to be killed by the workers and that this worker behavior might have avoided the evolution of polyandry in Meliponini species. (AU)

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Scientific publications (8)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; IMPERATRIZ-FONSECA, VERA L.; RATNIEKS, FRANCIS L. W.. Queen Execution, Diploid Males, and Selection For and Against Polyandry in the Brazilian Stingless Bee Scaptotrigona depilis. American Naturalist, v. 194, n. 5, p. 725-735, . (12/11144-0)
VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; MAIA-SILVA, CAMILA; MENEZES, CRISTIANO; IMPERATRIZ-FONSECA, VERA LUCIA. Newly emerged workers of the stingless bee Scaptotrigona aff. depilis prefer stored pollen to fresh pollen. Apidologie, v. 48, n. 2, p. 204-210, . (12/11144-0)
VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; MENEZES, CRISTIANO; IMPERATRIZ-FONSECA, VERA LUCIA. Behavioural and developmental responses of a stingless bee (Scaptotrigona depilis) to nest overheating. Apidologie, v. 46, n. 4, p. 455-464, . (12/11144-0, 04/15801-0, 07/50218-1)
VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; OLIVEIRA, RICARDO C.; SCHILLEWAERT, SHARON; ALVES, DENISE A.; WENSELEERS, TOM; NASCIMENTO, FABIO S.; IMPERATRIZ-FONSECA, VERA L.; RATNIEKS, FRANCIS L. W.. Diploid Male Production Results in Queen Death in the Stingless Bee Scaptotrigona depilis. Journal of Chemical Ecology, v. 43, n. 4, p. 403-410, . (12/11144-0, 15/25301-9)
HAMMEL, BENEDIKT; VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; MENEZES, CRISTIANO; NASCIMENTO, FABIO S.; ENGELS, WOLF; GRUETER, CHRISTOPH. Soldiers in a Stingless Bee: Work Rate and Task Repertoire Suggest They Are an Elite Force. American Naturalist, v. 187, n. 1, p. 120-129, . (12/11144-0, 10/10027-5)
SEGERS, FRANCISCA H. I. D.; MENEZES, CRISTIANO; VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; LAMBERT, DOROTHEE; GRUETER, CHRISTOPH. Soldier production in a stingless bee depends on rearing location and nurse behaviour. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, v. 69, n. 4, p. 613-623, . (12/11144-0)
VOLLET-NETO, AYRTON; DOS SANTOS, CHARLES FERNANDO; SANTIAGO, LEANDRO RODRIGUES; ALVES, DENISE DE ARAUJO; DE FIGUEIREDO, JULIA PINHEIRO; NANZER, MARINO; ARIAS, MARIA CRISTINA; IMPERATRIZ-FONSECA, VERA LUCIA. Diploid males of Scaptotrigona depilis are able to join reproductive aggregations (Apidae, Meliponini). JOURNAL OF HYMENOPTERA RESEARCH, v. 45, p. 125-130, . (12/16716-2, 10/19717-4, 12/11144-0)
VOLLET-NETO, A.; KOFFLER, S.; DOS SANTOS, C. F.; MENEZES, C.; NUNES, F. M. F.; HARTFELDER, K.; IMPERATRIZ-FONSECA, V. L.; ALVES, D. A.. Recent advances in reproductive biology of stingless bees. Insectes Sociaux, v. 65, n. 2, p. 201-212, . (12/11144-0)
Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
VOLLET NETO, Ayrton. Evolution of mating systems in stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini). 2016. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (PCARP/BC) Ribeirão Preto.

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