Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Repeated evolution of queen parthenogenesis and social hybridogenesis in Cataglyphis desert ants

Kuhn, Alexandre ORCID; Darras, Hugo ORCID; Paknia, Omid; Aron, Serge

Over the last decade, genetic studies on social insects have revealed a remarkable diversity of unusual reproductive strategies, such as male clonality, female clonality, and social hybridogenesis. In this context, Cataglyphis desert ants are useful models because of their unique reproductive systems. In several species, queens conditionally use sexual reproduction and parthenogenesis to produce sterile workers and reproductive queens, respectively. In social hybridogenesis, two distinct genetic lineages coexist within a population, and workers result from mating between partners of different lineages; in contrast, queens and males are both produced asexually by parthenogenesis. Consequently, nonreproductive workers are all interlineage hybrids, whereas reproductives are all pure lineage individuals. Here, we characterized the reproductive systems of 11 species to investigate the distribution of the conditional use of sex and social hybridogenesis in Cataglyphis. We identified one new case in which sexual reproduction was conditionally used in the absence of dependent-lineage reproduction. We also discovered five new instances of social hybridogenesis. Based on our phylogenetic analyses, we inferred that both the conditional use of sex and social hybridogenesis independently evolved multiple times in the genus Cataglyphis.

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Kuhn, Alexandre / Darras, Hugo / Paknia, Omid / et al: Repeated evolution of queen parthenogenesis and social hybridogenesis in Cataglyphis desert ants. 2020.

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