Draft genome of the globally widespread and invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)

Christopher D. Smith, Aleksey Zimin, Carson Holt, Ehab Abouheif, Richard Benton, Elizabeth Cash, Vincent Croset, Cameron R. Currie, Eran Elhaik, Christine G. Elsik, Marie Julie Fave, Vilaiwan Fernandes, Juergen Gadau, Joshua D. Gibson, Dan Graur, Kirk J. Grubbs, Darren E. Hagen, Martin Helmkampf, Jo Anne Holley, Hao HuAna Sofia Ibarraran Viniegra, Brian R. Johnson, Reed M. Johnson, Abderrahman Khila, Jay W. Kim, Joseph Laird, Kaitlyn A. Mathis, Joseph A. Moeller, Monica C. Muñoz-Torres, Marguerite C. Murphy, Rin Nakamura, Surabhi Nigam, Rick P. Overson, Jennifer E. Placek, Rajendhran Rajakumar, Justin T. Reese, Hugh M. Robertson, Chris R. Smith, Andrew V. Suarez, Garret Suen, Elissa L. Suhr, Shu Tao, Candice W. Torres, Ellen Van Wilgenburg, Lumi Viljakainen, Kimberly K O Walden, Alexander L. Wild, Mark Yandell, James A. Yorke, Neil D. Tsutsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


Ants are some of the most abundant and familiar animals on Earth, and they play vital roles in most terrestrial ecosystems. Although all ants are eusocial, and display a variety of complex and fascinating behaviors, few genomic resources exist for them. Here, we report the draft genome sequence of a particularly widespread and well-studied species, the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), which was accomplished using a combination of 454 (Roche) and Illumina sequencing and community-based funding rather than federal grant support. Manual annotation of >1,000 genes from a variety of different gene families and functional classes reveals unique features of the Argentine ant's biology, as well as similarities to Apis mellifera and Nasonia vitripennis. Distinctive features of the Argentine ant genome include remarkable expansions of gustatory (116 genes) and odorant receptors (367 genes), an abundance of cytochrome P450 genes (>110), lineagespecific expansions of yellow/major royal jelly proteins and desaturases, and complete CpG DNA methylation and RNAi toolkits. The Argentine ant genome contains fewer immune genes than Drosophila and Tribolium, which may reflect the prominent role played by behavioral and chemical suppression of pathogens. Analysis of the ratio of observed to expected CpG nucleotides for genes in the reproductive development and apoptosis pathways suggests higher levels of methylation than in the genome overall. The resources provided by this genome sequence will offer an abundance of tools for researchers seeking to illuminate the fascinating biology of this emerging model organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5673-5678
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 5 2011


  • Chemoreception
  • Hymenoptera
  • Invasive species
  • Sociality
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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