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Journal Article (Refereed)
January 2014

Recognition of nestmate eggs in the ant Formica fusca is based on queen derived cues

Helanterä, H & Martin, S & Ratnieks, F 2014, 'Recognition of nestmate eggs in the ant Formica fusca is based on queen derived cues', Current Zoology, 60.


Inclusive fitness benefits of cooperation often depend on recognizing the right individuals to interact with.  As a prime example, social insect nests protect themselves from non-kin intruders through nestmate recognition based on chemical cues. The recognition cues on adult individuals are from a mixture of genetic and environmental sources, but the ontogeny and use of recognition cues on eggs has not been previously assessed. We studied nestmate recognition of eggs and the ontogeny of egg recognition cues in the ant Formica fusca, a species with precise egg recognition abilities. Workers were able to discriminate among freshly laid eggs with no nest derived cues on them, and the egg surface chemicals varied among nests in these eggs, suggesting that queen derived cues are used in nestmate recognition. The results are discussed in the light of their implications on deceptive social parasite strategies and within colony conflicts.


SEEK Members

External Authors

Heikki Helanterä

Francis Ratnieks

Publication Details

Journal Name
Current Zoology