Genetic diversity promotes homeostasis in insect colonies

Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Aug;22(8):408-13. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.06.001. Epub 2007 Jun 18.


Although most insect colonies are headed by a singly mated queen, some ant, wasp and bee taxa have evolved high levels of multiple mating or 'polyandry'. We argue here that a contributing factor towards the evolution of polyandry is that the resulting genetic diversity within colonies provides them with a system of genetically based task specialization, enabling them to respond resiliently to environmental perturbation. An alternate view is that genetic contributions to task specialization are a side effect of multiple mating, which evolved through other causes, and that genetically based task specialization now makes little or no contribution to colony fitness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Hymenoptera / genetics*
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Social Behavior*