High recombination frequency creates genotypic diversity in colonies of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior

A. Sirviö, Juergen Gadau, O. Rueppell, D. Lamatsch, J. J. Boomsma, P. Pamilo, Robert Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Honeybees are known to have genetically diverse colonies because queens mate with many males and the recombination rate is extremely high. Genetic diversity among social insect workers has been hypothesized to improve general performance of large and complex colonies, but this idea has not been tested in other social insects. Here, we present a linkage map and an estimate of the recombination rate for Acromyrmex echinatior, a leaf-cutting ant that resembles the honeybee in having multiple mating of queens and colonies of approximately the same size. A map of 145 AFLP markers in 22 linkage groups yielded a total recombinational size of 2076 cM and an inferred recombination rate of 161 kb cM-1 (or 6.2 cM Mb-1). This estimate is lower than in the honeybee but, as far as the mapping criteria can be compared, higher than in any other insect mapped so far. Earlier studies on A. echinatior have demonstrated that variation in division of labour and pathogen resistance has a genetic component and that genotypic diversity among workers may thus give colonies of this leaf-cutting ant a functional advantage. The present result is therefore consistent with the hypothesis that complex social life can select for an increased recombination rate through effects on genotypic diversity and colony performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1475-1485
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Acromyrmex echinatior
  • Division of labour
  • Genetic linkage map
  • Recombination frequency
  • Social insects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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