Publication Date

5-18-2021

Document Type

Article

Department

Biological Sciences

Publication Title

Nature Communications

Volume

12

DOI

10.1038/s41467-021-23178-w

Abstract

Inquiline ants are highly specialized and obligate social parasites that infiltrate and exploit colonies of closely related species. They have evolved many times convergently, are often evolutionarily young lineages, and are almost invariably rare. Focusing on the leaf-cutting ant genus Acromyrmex, we compared genomes of three inquiline social parasites with their free-living, closely-related hosts. The social parasite genomes show distinct signatures of erosion compared to the host lineages, as a consequence of relaxed selective constraints on traits associated with cooperative ant colony life and of inquilines having very small effective population sizes. We find parallel gene losses, particularly in olfactory receptors, consistent with inquiline species having highly reduced social behavioral repertoires. Many of the genomic changes that we uncover resemble those observed in the genomes of obligate non-social parasites and intracellular endosymbionts that branched off into highly specialized, host-dependent niches.

Funding Number

DEB-1654829

Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation

Keywords

Coevolution, Genome evolution, Molecular evolution, Social evolution

Comments

This article has been corrected. Documentation of that correction can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23950-y

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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