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Societies Drifting Apart? Behavioural, Genetic and Chemical Differentiation between Supercolonies in the Yellow Crazy Ant Anoplolepis gracilipes

Title data

Drescher, Jochen ; Blüthgen, Nico ; Schmitt, Thomas ; Bühler, Jana ; Feldhaar, Heike:
Societies Drifting Apart? Behavioural, Genetic and Chemical Differentiation between Supercolonies in the Yellow Crazy Ant Anoplolepis gracilipes.
In: PLoS One. Vol. 5 (2010) Issue 10 .
ISSN 1932-6203
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013581

Abstract in another language

Background: In populations of most social insects, gene flow is maintained through mating between reproductive individuals from different colonies in periodic nuptial flights followed by dispersal of the fertilized foundresses. Some ant species, however, form large polygynous supercolonies, in which mating takes place within the maternal nest (intranidal mating) and fertilized queens disperse within or along the boundary of the supercolony, leading to supercolony growth (colony budding). As a consequence, gene flow is largely confined within supercolonies. Over time, such supercolonies may diverge genetically and, thus, also in recognition cues (cuticular hydrocarbons, CHC's) by a combination of genetic drift and accumulation of colony-specific, neutral mutations. Methodology/Principal Findings: We tested this hypothesis for six supercolonies of the invasive ant Anoplolepis gracilipes in north-east Borneo. Within supercolonies, workers from different nests tolerated each other, were closely related and showed highly similar CHC profiles. Between supercolonies, aggression ranged from tolerance to mortal encounters and was negatively correlated with relatedness and CHC profile similarity. Supercolonies were genetically and chemically distinct, with mutually aggressive supercolony pairs sharing only 33.1+/- 17.5 (mean +/- SD) of their alleles across six microsatellite loci and 73.8+/- 11.6 of the compounds in their CHC profile. Moreover, the proportion of alleles that differed between supercolony pairs was positively correlated to the proportion of qualitatively different CHC compounds. These qualitatively differing CHC compounds were found across various substance classes including alkanes, alkenes and mono-, di- and trimethyl-branched alkanes. Conclusions: We conclude that positive feedback between genetic, chemical and behavioural traits may further enhance supercolony differentiation through genetic drift and neutral evolution, and may drive colonies towards different evolutionary pathways, possibly including speciation.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER101588
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heike Feldhaar
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 500 Natural sciences
500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2015 12:19
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2015 12:19
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/10773