Article: article from journal or magazin.
Convergent development of low-relatedness supercolonies in Myrmica ants.
Many ant species have independently evolved colony structures with multiple queens and very low relatedness among nestmate workers, but it has remained unclear whether low-relatedness kin structures can repeatedly arise in populations of the same species. Here we report a study of Danish island populations of the red ant Myrmica sulcinodis and show that it is likely that such repeated developments occur. Two microsatellite loci were used to estimate genetic differentiation (F(ST)) among three populations and nestmate relatedness within these populations. The F(ST) values were highly significant due to very different allele frequencies among the three populations with relatively few common alleles and relatively many rare alleles, possibly caused by single queen foundation and rare subsequent immigration. Given the isolation of the islands and the low investment in reproduction, we infer that each of the populations was most likely established by a single queen, even though all three extant populations now have within-colony relatedness 95%), and the genetic differentiation of nests showed a significantly positive correlation with the distance between them. Both male-biased sex-ratio and genetic viscosity are expected characteristics of populations where queens have very local dispersal and where new colonies are initiated through nest-budding. Based on a comparison with other M. sulcinodis populations we hypothesise a distinct succession of population types and suggest that this may be a possible pathway to unicoloniality, ie, development towards a complete lack of colony kin structure and unrelated nestmate workers.
Animals, Ants/genetics, Ants/growth &, development, Europe, Female, Gene Frequency, Male, Microsatellite Repeats, Population Density, Social Behavior
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