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Data from: Extreme polyandry aids the establishment of invasive populations of a social insect

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Ding, Guiling; Xu, Huanli; Oldroyd, Benjamin P.; Gloag, Rosalyn S. (2017). Data from: Extreme polyandry aids the establishment of invasive populations of a social insect [Dataset]. Dryad.


Although monandry is believed to have facilitated the evolution of eusociality, many highly eusocial insects have since evolved extreme polyandry. The transition to extreme polyandry was likely driven by the benefits of within-colony genetic variance to task specialization and/or disease resistance, but the extent to which it confers secondary benefits, once evolved, is unclear. Here we investigate the consequences of extreme polyandry on the invasive potential of the Asian honey bee, Apis cerana. In honey bees and other Hymenoptera, small newly founded invasive populations must overcome the genetic constraint of their sex determination system that requires heterozygosity at a sex-determining locus to produce viable females. We find A. cerana queens in an invasive population mate with an average of 27 males (range 16–42) that would result in the founding queen/s carrying 75% of their source population’s sex alleles in stored sperm. This mating frequency is similar to native-range Chinese A. cerana (mean 29 males, range 19–46). Simulations reveal that extreme polyandry reduces the risk, relative to monandry or moderate polyandry, that colonies produce a high incidence of inviable brood in populations that have experienced a founder event, that is, when sex allele diversity is low and/or allele frequencies are unequal. Thus, extreme polyandry aids the invasiveness of A. cerana in two ways: (1) by increasing the sex locus allelic richness carried to new populations with each founder, thereby increasing sex locus heterozygosity; and (2) by reducing the population variance in colony fitness following a founder event.

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