Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fire Ants Start a Sexual Revolution

Selfish genes. Fire ant queens and males fight the battle to propagate their genes by reproducing clonally.
CREDIT: Hawaii State Department of Agriculture

Do females fire ants belong to a different species than the males?

News report inScience.

Nature news:
Males pit their genes against females by chucking DNA out of eggs.
The sperm of the male ant appears to be able to destroy the female DNA within a fertilized egg, giving birth to a male that is a clone of its father. Meanwhile the female queens make clones of themselves to carry on the royal female line

From Evolutionary biology: Males from Mars in Nature
In an ant species — or is it two species? — females are produced only by females and males only by males. Explanations of this revelation have to invoke some decidedly offbeat patterns of natural selection.

Apparently in this species of fire ant (which is a quite common pest), queens pass on their genes to daughter queens without mixing in male genes - this is not the case in most ant species. Males somehow managed to take revenge, sons contain only the genes of their fathers. However workers, which are sterile, are still reproduced sexually! Bizarre.

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