Scientists understand the evolution of “social supergene” fire ants

Scientists understand the evolution of “social supergene” fire ants

The researchers analyzed open a few years ago the supergene (the closely linked group of genes) responsible for the social organization of fire ants, and found out how he had changed in the course of evolution. The results were published in the journal Molecular Ecology, also about opening the portal EurekAlert!.

There are two types of fire ant colonies — in some there is only one Queen, others have dozens. The researchers compared the genomes of representatives of both types.

Homogeneous differences in the chromosomes of supergene containing more than 500 genes was indicated that he had not varied for some time, and simultaneously. Rearrangement of chromosomes resulted in changes in social organization.

In addition, in the embodiment of supergene responsible for the formation of colonies with many Queens, the researchers found unwanted mutations. Obviously, social organization responsible only some genes within the supergene, and the benefits of such an organization outweigh the disadvantages caused by mutations.