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Data from: Odor diversity decreases with inbreeding in the ant Hypoponera opacior

Cite this dataset

Menzel, Florian; Radke, René; Foitzik, Susanne (2016). Data from: Odor diversity decreases with inbreeding in the ant Hypoponera opacior [Dataset]. Dryad.


Reduction in heterozygosity can lead to inbreeding depression. This loss of genetic variability especially affects diverse loci, such as immune genes or those encoding recognition cues. In social insects, nestmates are recognized by their odor, i.e. their cuticular hydrocarbon profile. Genes underlying hydrocarbon production are thought to be under balancing selection. If so, inbreeding should result in a loss of chemical diversity. We show here that cuticular hydrocarbon diversity decreases with inbreeding. Studying an ant with a facultative inbreeding lifestyle we found inbred workers to exhibit both a lower number of hydrocarbons and less diverse, that is, less evenly-proportioned profiles. The association with inbreeding was strong for methyl-branched alkanes, which play a major role in nestmate recognition, and for n-alkanes, whereas unsaturated compounds were unaffected. Shifts in allocation strategies with inbreeding in our focal species indicate that these ants can detect their inbreeding level and use this information to adjust their reproductive strategy. Our study is the first to demonstrate that odor profiles can encode information on inbreeding, with broad implications not only for social insects, but for sexual selection and mate choice in general. Odor profiles may constitute an honest signal of inbreeding, a fitness-relevant trait in many species.

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