One problem, many solutions: Female reproduction is regulated by chemically diverse pheromones across insects

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


The reproductive division of labour in social insects is a fascinating phenomenon regulated by diverse chemical signals that vary substantially in structure. Is this diversity an example of one problem (reproductive regulation) and many potential solutions (diverse chemicals)? Or are there hidden shared elements in the pheromonal regulation of reproduction across insects? To address this question, I will first discuss the phenomenon of reproductive division of labour in social insects, particularly, the reproductive conflicts among females and the means by which these conflicts are resolved. I will then focus on the use of pheromones, a mode of communication that has broadly diversified among social insects that live in large complex societies. I will summarize the different approaches to define semiochemicals in the context of the reproductive division of labour and review the state of knowledge of compounds regulating insect reproduction, both solitary and social, demonstrating the structural diversity as well as the potential conservation of the mechanisms regulating signal production and perception. Lastly, I will discuss the different hypotheses underlying the evolution of pheromones regulating reproduction in insects. Our current understanding of reproductive signalling, while extensive within single species, is still limited by the paucity of comparative studies across the Insecta as a whole, and further investigations are sorely needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Insect Physiology
EditorsRussell Jurenka
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages52
ISBN (Print)9780128203675
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Insect Physiology
ISSN (Print)0065-2806
ISSN (Electronic)2213-6800

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science


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