Dual mechanism of queen influence over sex ratio in the ant Pheidole pallidula Academic Article uri icon


  • Social Hymenoptera are general models for the study of parent-offspring conflict over sex ratio, because queens and workers frequently have different reproductive optima. The ant Pheidole pallidula shows a split distribution of sex ratios with most of the colonies producing reproductives of a single sex. Sex ratio specialization is tightly associated with the breeding system, with single-queen (monogynous) colonies producing male-biased brood and multiple-queen (polygynous) colonies female-biased brood. Here, we show that this sex specialization is primarily determined by the queen's influence over colony sex ratio. Queens from monogynous colonies produce a significantly more male-biased primary sex ratio than queens from polygynous colonies. Moreover, queens from monogynous colonies produce a significantly lower proportion of diploid eggs that develop into queens and this is associated with lower rate of juvenile hormone (JH) production compared to queens from polygynous colonies. These results indicate that queens regulate colony sex ratio in two complementary ways: by determining the proportion of female eggs laid and by hormonally biasing the development of female eggs into either a worker or reproductive form. This is the first time that such a dual system of queen influence over colony sex ratio is identified in an ant. Springer-Verlag 2005.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • de Menten, L., Fournier, D., Brent, C., Passera, L., Vargo, E. L., & Aron, S.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • de Menten, L||Fournier, D||Brent, C||Passera, L||Vargo, EL||Aron, S

publication date

  • October 2005