Males are here to stay!

There is a wide variety of reproductive strategies in the world, and how and why organisms a reproductive strategy remains a mystery. Our former postdoc Misato Miyakawa has spend a long time carefully rearing little fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata), which come from populations where queen can reproduce either clonally or sexually. Although clonal reproduction seems to have a lot of advantages, clonal queens still mate with males, using their sperm to produce workers. However, previos research has shown that clonal queens have the genetic capacity to produce both queens and workers clonally. So why mate? We found that if the queens don’t mate, their fecundity is actually really low, suggesting that mating is necessary to enhance colony-level worker production. Curiously, this was also the case for queens from sexual populations, where few of the eggs laid by virgin queens survived.

You can read the OIST press release here, and find the actual paper on the Science of Nature web site.