Matching Items (7)

128126-Thumbnail Image.png

Population and colony structure and morphometrics in the queen dimorphic little black ant, Monomorium sp. AZ-02, with a review of queen phenotypes in the genus Monomorium

Description

The North American little black ant, Monomorium sp. AZ-02 (subfamily Myrmicinae), displays a dimorphism that consists of alate (winged) and ergatoid (wingless) queens. Surveys at our field site in southcentral

The North American little black ant, Monomorium sp. AZ-02 (subfamily Myrmicinae), displays a dimorphism that consists of alate (winged) and ergatoid (wingless) queens. Surveys at our field site in southcentral Arizona, USA, demonstrated that only one queen phenotype (alate or ergatoid) occurred in each colony during the season in which reproductive sexuals were produced. A morphometric analysis demonstrated that ergatoid queens retained all specialized anatomical features of alate queens (except for wings), and that they were significantly smaller and had a lower mass than alate queens. Using eight morphological characters, a discriminant analysis correctly categorized all queens (40 of 40) of both phenotypes. A molecular phylogeny using 420 base pairs of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I demonstrated that alate and ergatoid queens are two alternative phenotypes within the species; both phenotypes were intermixed on our phylogeny, and both phenotypes often displayed the same haplotype. A survey of the genus Monomorium (358 species) found that wingless queens (ergatoid queens, brachypterous queens) occur in 42 of 137 species (30.6%) in which the queen has been described. These wingless queen species are geographically and taxonomically widespread as they occur on several continents and in eight species groups, suggesting that winglessness probably arose independently on many occasions in the genus.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-07-17

128988-Thumbnail Image.png

Past climate change on Sky Islands drives novelty in a core developmental gene network and its phenotype

Description

Background
A fundamental and enduring problem in evolutionary biology is to understand how populations differentiate in the wild, yet little is known about what role organismal development plays in this

Background
A fundamental and enduring problem in evolutionary biology is to understand how populations differentiate in the wild, yet little is known about what role organismal development plays in this process. Organismal development integrates environmental inputs with the action of gene regulatory networks to generate the phenotype. Core developmental gene networks have been highly conserved for millions of years across all animals, and therefore, organismal development may bias variation available for selection to work on. Biased variation may facilitate repeatable phenotypic responses when exposed to similar environmental inputs and ecological changes. To gain a more complete understanding of population differentiation in the wild, we integrated evolutionary developmental biology with population genetics, morphology, paleoecology and ecology. This integration was made possible by studying how populations of the ant species Monomorium emersoni respond to climatic and ecological changes across five ‘Sky Islands’ in Arizona, which are mountain ranges separated by vast ‘seas’ of desert. Sky Islands represent a replicated natural experiment allowing us to determine how repeatable is the response of M. emersoni populations to climate and ecological changes at the phenotypic, developmental, and gene network levels.
Results
We show that a core developmental gene network and its phenotype has kept pace with ecological and climate change on each Sky Island over the last ∼90,000 years before present (BP). This response has produced two types of evolutionary change within an ant species: one type is unpredictable and contingent on the pattern of isolation of Sky lsland populations by climate warming, resulting in slight changes in gene expression, organ growth, and morphology. The other type is predictable and deterministic, resulting in the repeated evolution of a novel wingless queen phenotype and its underlying gene network in response to habitat changes induced by climate warming.
Conclusion
Our findings reveal dynamics of developmental gene network evolution in wild populations. This holds important implications: (1) for understanding how phenotypic novelty is generated in the wild; (2) for providing a possible bridge between micro- and macroevolution; and (3) for understanding how development mediates the response of organisms to past, and potentially, future climate change.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-09-04

156606-Thumbnail Image.png

Geographical Variation in Social Structure, Morphology, and Genetics of the New World Honey Ant Myrmecocystus mendax

Description

Persistent cooperation between unrelated conspecifics rarely occurs in mature eusocial insect societies. In this dissertation, I present evidence of non-kin cooperation in the Nearctic honey ant Myrmecocystus mendax. Using microsatellite

Persistent cooperation between unrelated conspecifics rarely occurs in mature eusocial insect societies. In this dissertation, I present evidence of non-kin cooperation in the Nearctic honey ant Myrmecocystus mendax. Using microsatellite markers, I show that mature colonies in the Sierra Ancha Mountain of central Arizona contain multiple unrelated matrilines, an observation that is consistent with primary polygyny. In contrast, similar analyses suggest that colonies in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona are primarily monogynous. These interpretations are consistent with field and laboratory observations. Whereas cooperative colony founding was observed frequently among groups of Sierra Ancha foundresses, founding in the Chiricahua population was restricted to individual foundresses. Furthermore, Sierra Ancha foundresses successfully established incipient laboratory colonies without undergoing queen culling following emergence of the first workers. Multi-queen laboratory Sierra Ancha colonies also produced more workers and repletes than haplometrotic colonies, and when brood raiding was induced between colonies, queens of those with more workers had a higher survival probability.

Microsatellite analyses of additional locations within the M. mendax range suggest that polygyny is also present in some other populations, especially in central-northern Arizona, albeit at lower frequencies than that in the Sierra Anchas. In addition, analyses of multiple types of genetic data, including microsatellites, the mitochondrial barcoding region, and over 2000 nuclear ultra-conserved elements indicate that M. mendax populations within the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico are geographically structured, with strong support for the existence of two or more divergent clades as well as isolation-by-distance within clades. This structure is further shown to correlate with variation in queen number and hair length, a diagnostic taxonomic feature used to distinguish honey ant species.

Together, these findings suggest that regional ecological pressures (e.g. colony density , climate) may have acted on colony founding and social strategy to select for increasing workforce size and, along with genetic drift, have driven geographically isolated M. mendax populations to differentiate genetically and morphologically. The presence of colony fusion in the laboratory and life history traits in honey ant that are influenced by colony size, including repletism, brood raiding, and tournament, support this evolutionary scenario.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018