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Brothers smell similar: variation in the sex pheromone of male European Beewolves Philanthus triangulum F. (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae) and its implications for inbreeding avoidance

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Female choice is thought to increase the fitness returns of females. The complementary choice model states that the best mate depends on the particular genotype of a female. Aculeate Hymenoptera represent a special case of complementary female choice because males should be chosen on the basis of their allele at the sex determination locus. The prevalent sex determination mechanism in bees and wasps (single‐locus complementary sex determination) requires that, to produce a daughter, diploid offspring are heterozygous at the sex determination locus. Otherwise, infertile diploid males result. Inevitably, the proportion of diploid males increases with the rate of inbreeding. In the European Beewolf, males scent mark territories to attract mates and the composition of the pheromone might provide a basis for female choice. One crucial prerequisite for females to be able to discriminate against brothers and avoid inbreeding is that the male sex pheromone varies with familial affiliation. This hypothesis was tested by analysing the pheromone of male progeny of eight mothers using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. A significantly higher similarity was found among brothers than among unrelated individuals. Such a genetic component of a male sex pheromone has not yet been described from aculeate Hymenoptera. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 89, 433–442.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Würzburg, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany 2: University of Würzburg, Department of Food Chemistry, Chemiezentrum, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany

Publication date: November 1, 2006


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