Origin and evolution of the dependent lineages in the genetic caste determination system of pogonomyrmex ants

Anu Sirviö, Pekka Pamilo, Robert A. Johnson, Robert Page, Juergen Gadau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Hybridizing harvester ants of the Pogonomyrmex barbatus/rugosus complex have an exceptional genetic caste determination (GCD) mechanism. We combined computer simulations, population genomics, and linkage mapping using >1000 nuclear AFLP markers and a partial mtDNA sequence to explore the genetic architecture and origin of the dependent lineages. Our samples included two pairs of hybridizing lineages, and the mitochondrial and nuclear data showed contradicting affinities between them. Clustering of individual genotypes based on nuclear markers indicated some exceptions to the general GCD system, that is, interlineage hybrid gynes as well as some pure-line workers. A genetic linkage map of P. rugosus showed one of the highest recombination rates ever measured in insects (14.0 cM/Mb), supporting the view that social insects are characterized by high recombination rates. The population data had 165 markers in which sibling pairs showed a significant genetic difference depending on the caste. The differences were scattered in the genome; 13 linkage groups had loci with FST > 0.9 between the hybridizing lineages J1 and J2.The mapping results and the population data indicate that the dependent lineages have been initially formed through hybridization at different points in time but the role of introgression has been insignificant in their later evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-884
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • AFLP
  • Genetic differentiation
  • Hybridization
  • Linkage map
  • MtDNA
  • Recombination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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