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A major transition in evolution is the origin of a division between reproduction and work among individuals. Nowhere is this divide more striking than in social insects, where workers rarely produce offspring even though they are often capable of reproduction should the queen or king die. The molecular mechanisms that control worker reproduction remain(More)
Cooperation requires communication; this applies to animals and humans alike. The main communication means differ between taxa and social insects (ants, termites, and some bees and wasps) lack the cognitive abilities of most social vertebrates. Central to the regulation of the reproductive harmony in insect societies is the production of a royalty scent(More)
Conflict and competition lie at the heart of the theories of both ecology and sociobiology. Despite this, the interaction between societal conflicts on one hand and ecological competition on the other remains poorly understood. Here, we investigate this interaction in two ecologically similar sympatric termite species, Cryptotermes secundus Hill and(More)
BACKGROUND Social insects (ants, bees, wasps and termites) are considered as prime examples of altruism in which individuals (workers) forego their own reproduction to help other individuals reproduce. Such a behaviour is favoured by natural selection because the workers rear close kin and in doing so enhance their inclusive fitness. RESULTS Here I show,(More)
BACKGROUND Polyphenism, the expression of different phenotypes with the same genetic background, is well known for social insects. The substantial physiological and morphological differences among the castes generally are the result of differential gene expression. In lower termites, workers are developmentally flexible to become neotenic replacement(More)
Ants and termites are the most abundant animals on earth. Their ecological success is attributed to their social life. They live in colonies consisting of few reproducing individuals, while the large majority of colony members (workers/soldiers) forego reproduction at least temporarilly. Despite their apparent resemblance in social organisation, both groups(More)
Termites are social cockroaches and this sociality is founded on a high plasticity during development. Three molting types (progressive, stationary and regressive molts) are fundamental to achieve plasticity during alate/sexual development, and they make termites a major challenge to any model on endocrine regulation in insect development. As the endocrine(More)
The termites evolved eusociality and complex societies before the ants, but have been studied much less. The recent publication of the first two termite genomes provides a unique comparative opportunity, particularly because the sequenced termites represent opposite ends of the social complexity spectrum. Zootermopsis nevadensis has simple colonies with(More)
Many ant species excavate nests that are made up of chambers and interconnecting tunnels. There is a general trend of an increase in nest complexity with increasing population size. This complexity reflects a higher ramification and anastomosis of tunnels that can be estimated by the meshedness coefficient of the tunnelling networks. It has long been(More)