Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

May 2006


Males in polygyne populations of Solenopsis invicta are primarily sterile diploids and thought to not express the Gp-9 gene coding for a pheromone-binding protein affecting complex social behavior.We examined an aspect of the breeding system hitherto not considered—male Gp-9 genotypes in relation to sperm stored in queens. Four sites with varying frequencies of sympatric monogyne and polygyne colonies were sampled, including sexuals, workers, and broods from four colonies. Most queens were heterozygotes storing B sperm. Although predicted to be common, only 14 of 504 males were B or BB genotypes, suggesting strong selection. Increased frequency of polygyne colonies at each site paralleled increases in queens with b sperm (1.9– 32.8%) and of noninseminated queens. The presence of both B and b sperm in 1.9–18.9% of queens, genotype profiles of colonies, and genotypes of offspring from individual queens suggest some frequency of multiple mating. The bb genotype, rather than an obligate, developmental lethal, was present in some queens and common in alates, workers, and brood. Selective mortality of sexuals may affect multiple aspects of the breeding system, including female-mediated dispersal, mating success, and gene flow.


This article was originally published in Genetics 173: 207-213 (May 2006). DOI: 10.1534/genetics.106.056358