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Convergent genetic architecture underlies social organization in ants.
Complex adaptive polymorphisms are common in nature, but what mechanisms maintain the underlying favorable allelic combinations [1-4]? The convergent evolution of polymorphic social organization in two independent ant species provides a great opportunity to investigate how genomes evolved under parallel selection. Here, we demonstrate that a large, nonrecombining "social chromosome" is associated with social organization in the Alpine silver ant, Formica selysi. This social chromosome shares architectural characteristics with that of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta , but the two show no detectable similarity in gene content. The discovery of convergence at two levels-the phenotype and the genetic architecture associated with alternative social forms-points at general genetic mechanisms underlying transitions in social organization. More broadly, our findings are consistent with recent theoretical studies suggesting that suppression of recombination plays a key role in facilitating coordinated shifts in coadapted traits [5, 6].
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