3 years ago

Sex-biased dispersal creates spatial genetic structure in a parthenogenetic ant with a dependent-lineage reproductive system

H Darras, S Aron, A Kuhn, D Bauman

Reproduction and dispersal are key aspects of species life history that influence spatial genetic structure in populations. Several ant species in the genus Cataglyphis have evolved a unique breeding system in which new reproductives (that is, queens and males) are produced asexually by parthenogenesis; in contrast, non-reproductives (that is, workers) are produced via sexual reproduction by mates from distinct genetic lineages. We investigated how these two coexisting reproductive methods affect population-level spatial genetic structure using the ant Cataglyphis mauritanica as a model. We obtained genotypes for queens and their male mates from 338 colonies, and we found that the two lineages present in the study population occurred with equal frequency. Furthermore, analysis of spatial genetic structure revealed strong sex-biased dispersal. Because queens were produced by parthenogenesis and because they dispersed over short distances, there was an extreme level of spatial structuring: a mosaic of patches composed of clonal queens was formed. Males, on the other hand, dispersed over several hundred metres and, thus, across patches, ensuring successful interlineage mating.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2017.34

DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2017.34

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