Ontogenic Caste Differences in the Van der Vecht Organ of Primitively Eusocial Neotropical Paper Wasps

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Souza, Andre Rodrigues de
Petrocelli, Iacopo
Lino-Neto, Jose
Santos, Eduardo Fernando [UNESP]
Noll, Fernando Barbosa [UNESP]
Turillazzi, Stefano
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Public Library Science
Recent studies have reported incipient morphological caste dimorphism in the Van der Vecht organ size of some temperate Polistes paper wasps. Whether species other than the temperate ones show a similar pattern remains elusive. Here, we have studied some Neotropical Polistes species. By comparing females collected through the year, we showed caste related differences in the size of the Van der Vecht organ in P. ferreri (body size corrected Van der Vech organ size of queens = 0.45 +/- 0.06, workers = 0.38 +/- 0.07 mm(2), p = 0.0021), P. versicolor (body size corrected Van der Vech organ size of queens = 0.54 +/- 0.11, workers = 0.46 +/- 0.09 mm(2), p = 0.010), but not P. simillimus (body size corrected Van der Vech organ size of queens = 0.52 +/- 0.05, workers = 0.49 +/- 0.06 mm(2), p = 0.238). Therefore, it seems that queens and workers of some Neotropical Polistes have diverged in their ontogenic trajectory of the Van der Vecht organ size, providing clear evidence for incipient morphological caste dimorphism. As Polistes are distributed mostly in the tropics, we propose that physical caste differences may be widespread in the genus. Also, we highlight that morphological divergence in the queen-worker phenotypes may have started through differential selection of body structures, like the Van der Vecht organ.
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Plos One. San Francisco: Public Library Science, v. 11, n. 5, 12 p., 2016.