The role of male disease susceptibility in the evolution of haplodiploid insect societies

Sean O'Donnell, Samuel N. Beshers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Heterozygosity at loci affecting resistance against parasites can benefit host fitness. We predict that, in haplodiploid species, haploid males will suffer decreased parasite resistance relative to diploid females. We suggest that elevated susceptibility in haploid males has shaped the evolution of social behaviour in haplodiploid species. Male susceptibility will select for behavioural adaptations that limit males' exposure to pathogens and that limit male transmission of pathogens within and between colonies. The relatedness-asymmetry hypothesis that has been advanced to explain female-only workers does not make these predictions. We review the relevant evidence for genetic effects on parasite resistance in insects and summarize empirical evidence that relates to the haploid-susceptibility hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-983
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1542
StatePublished - May 7 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Haplodiploidy
  • Hymenoptera
  • Male social behaviour
  • Parasite-pathogen resistance
  • Social evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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