From ovarian measurements, we can determine which wasps in the colony were capable of reproducing at the time of collection. To gain a further understanding of the social structure of the colony, it is important to be able to determine which of the reproductively capable females are the mothers of the workers. In order to do this, it is necessary to find some genetic marker which links mothers and daughters.
One such genetic marker is a microsatellite. Microsatellites are stretches of DNA that consist of tandem repeats of a simple sequence of nucleotides (for example, AAT repeated 15 times in succession). Using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), these repeats can be easily amplified. The number of repeat units that an individual has at a given locus can be easily resolved using polyacrlyamide gels. From the gels, we can see two genetic marks for most individuals; each individual inherits one length of nucleotide repeats from his or her mother and one from his or her father (individuals with one band received the same band from both their mother and their father).