International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Are supergenes required for intra-specific variation of social organisation?

Author(s):
Emeline Favreau, Emeline Favreau , Claude Lebas , Rodrigo Pracana , Eckart Stolle , Max Reuter , Yannick Wurm
Institution(s):
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom; School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom ; ; School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom ; Institut für Biologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany ; Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, United Kingdom ; School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom
Ants exhibit tremendous diversity, but we know relatively little about how this diversity evolves. Here we focus on the convergent evolution of a fundamental social trait, the number of reproductive queens in a colony. While ants ancestrally have a single queen per colony, some ant species include two distinct colony types: single-queen colonies and multiple-queen colonies. This is the case in distantly related lineages, including fire ants and wood ants. Although the social polymorphism evolved independently in these two lineages, a large “supergene” region of suppressed recombination carried by a pair ‘social chromosomes’ determines in each lineage whether a colony contains a single queen or multiple queens. Here, we test in a third, unrelated lineage where social dimorphism convergently evolved whether supergene architecture is also involved in determining social form. For this, we created a reference genome using long-read sequencing and performed genome-wide comparisons between >50 single and >50 multiple-queen colonies. Our results shed light on the molecular constraints underlying convergent evolution of major social phenotypes.
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