The Queen Gets Her Way

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Science  17 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5533, pp. 1217
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5533.1217e

Sex ratio studies in ants provide one of the better tests of parent-offspring conflict and kin-selection theories. Theory predicts that workers prefer a more female-biased sex ratio than do queens, and the prevailing view is that workers win this conflict. Passera et al. (p. 1308; see the news story by Pennisi), however, show that sex ratio can sometimes be under queen control. Queens of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta can force workers to produce males by limiting the number of female eggs. This finding provides an explanation for sex investment ratios departing from the worker optimum in this and many other ant species.

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