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Searching for the missing link: the eggs act as an alternative vehicle of communication in social systems?

Grant number: 18/22461-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Animal Behavior
Principal researcher:Fábio Santos do Nascimento
Grantee:Rafael Carvalho da Silva
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):19/27552-0 - Does parasitism drive differential neurogenomic expression in females and males of a Polistes paper wasp?, BE.EP.DR


Eusociality is the main characteristc of social insects and it is one of the most remarkable transitions of evolution. Chemical communication acts as one of the most important channel that coordinates the dialogue among animals who live in societies. Division of reproductive labor segregates the individuals who live in colonies in two main groups, there are females who lay eggs (queens) and the rest known as workers who refrain from reproduction to perform the maintenance colonie labor (workers). Maintenance effectiveness of this system is due specificity chemical compounds productions released by queens (queens pheromones). It has been thought that one of the possible path could be through the eggs cuticle. Despite the existence of well stablished reproductive system between queens and workers, it has been seen that workers from some social insect species have ovarian development. However, worker eggs are policed by other worker, in other words, they are destroyed. Policing mechanism prevents colonies to have an over production of males and also ensures queen reproductive monopoly. Chemical information contained over the eggs are argue to exist, which help female recognition, and so far it is believed that could express honest signals of queen fertility. A probable hypothesis proposes that signals maintenance would be direct related with hormonal control, in other words, low quality females would not be able to product honest signals, taking into account that fertility and signals production would be interconnected. A plenty of works have demonstrated that in a several species of social insects there is a correlation in a presence of specific chemical compounds and queen fertility, it was also observed for common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) that queen cuticle pheromones are the same found across their eggs and that their cuticular hydrocarbons are under hormonal effect. These studies are punctual and require being formally tested trough bioassays for species of different social levels. Furthermore, through this project we will test the hypothesis that could exist a common signalization by pheromones which induces division of reproductive labor in wasps, which will contributes for the understanding about the use of alternative routes of communication, maintenance of honest signals and also the contribution of these signals for policing behavior. On this, we proposed three aims, one that basically would quantify the signals honesty released over the eggs and make some comparisons with signals on the queens and workers cuticle; the second would test whether the hypothesis of hormonal pleiotropy (endocrine regulation) indeed is applicable for social wasps system and finally whether this system helps for the policing behavior performed by workers in front of eggs laid by females previously treated with synthetic hormones. Part of this project will be developed in Brazil, by using solitary, primitively and eusocial species from Vespidae and solitary species from Crabronidae. Besides, another part might be developed in Belgium under supervision of Prof. Dr. Tom Wenseelers and Dra. Cintia Akemi Oi (in case BEPE is approved) and will include three species from Vespinae. The use and comparison of these different species will offer an extend idea about social behavior maintenance of insects. For this, packages of work will be conducted along the Ph.D. process. The three work packages will consist of behavior, physiology and chemical experiments. The results obtained will investigate whether the hormonal pleiotropy hypothesis for honest signals maintenance may be applied for wasps and also whether the eggs would acts as alternative vehicle for these signals spread.

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Scientific publications (6)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
OI, CINTIA AKEMI; BROWN, ROBERT L.; DA SILVA, RAFAEL CARVALHO; WENSELEERS, TOM. Reproduction and signals regulating worker policing under identical hormonal control in social wasps. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 10, n. 1 NOV 4 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DA SILVA, RAFAEL CARVALHO; PRATO, AMANDA; OI, CINTIA AKEMI; TURATTI, IZABEL CRISTINA CASANOVA; DO NASCIMENTO, FABIO SANTOS. Dominance Hierarchy, Ovarian Activity and Cuticular Hydrocarbons in the Primitively Eusocial WaspMischocyttarus cerberus(Vespidae, Polistinae, Mischocyttarini). Journal of Chemical Ecology, v. 46, n. 9 AUG 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DE SOUZA, ANDRE RODRIGUES; DA SILVA, RAFAEL CARVALHO; FERREIRA, RIUDO PAIVA; MATEUS, SIDNEI; PRATO, AMANDA; OI, CINTIA AKEMI; NOLL, FERNANDO BARBOSA; LINO-NETO, JOSE. Larval sex identification of in vivo and long-term ethanol-preserved social wasps. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, v. 168, n. 9 AUG 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DA SILVA, R. C.; ASSIS, D. S.; DE SOUZA, A. R.; NASCIMENTO, F. S.; GIANNOTTI, E. Notes on Brood Morphology and Development of the Neotropical Eusocial Wasp Mischocyttarus cerberus (Hymenoptera, Vespidae, Polistinae). Sociobiology, v. 67, n. 2, p. 301-307, JUN 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DA SILVA, RAFAEL CARVALHO; TOGNI, OLGA COUTINHO; GIANNOTTI, EDILBERTO; DO NASCIMENTO, FABIO SANTOS. Cues of dominance hierarchy, fertility and nestmate recognition in the primitively eusocial waspMischocyttarus parallelogrammus(Vespidae: Polistinae: Mischocyttarini). Chemoecology, v. 30, n. 5 JUN 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DA SILVA, R. C.; PRATO, A. S.; ASSTS, D. S.; NASCIMENTO, F. S. Occurrence and nesting behavior of social wasps in an anthropized environment. Sociobiology, v. 66, n. 2, p. 381-388, JUN 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.

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