Evolution of nesting habitats and metapleural glands in ants

Schlüns, Ellen A., Robson, Simon K.A., Austin, Andrew D., and Crozier, Ross H. (2010) Evolution of nesting habitats and metapleural glands in ants. In: Abstracts for the XVI Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insect, p. 192. From: IUSSI 2010 XVI Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insect, 8-13 August 2010, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Abstract

The metapleural gland is a unique and complex structure located on the propodeum of ants. Given its function in immune defence against microbes, it has undoubtedly played an important role in the ecological success of ants by enforcing colony hygiene and preventing diseases. Although this gland has an important antimicrobial function, it has been lost several times. It has been proposed that these losses are due to a shift in nesting habit, i.e. ants living in trees can afford to loose the metapleural gland because this environment harbours fewer microbes. Here we test this idea, the 'Arboreality Hypothesis', by constructing a phylogeny for 48 formicine ant species using eight markers (nuclear and mitochondrial) and Bayesian tree building methods. Character mapping for the presence/absence of the gland and nesting habitat was carried out with SIMMAP including 1000 trees from the posterior distribution of the MCMC run. Our results show several independent losses and regains of the metapleural gland across the subfamily. We also find a significant correlation between the two traits, suggesting that the 'Arboreality Hypothesis' can indeed explain the pattern of presence/absence of the metapleural gland in this group of ants.

Item ID: 17004
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
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ISBN: 978-87-92100-00-9
Date Deposited: 10 May 2011 23:37
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060304 Ethology and Sociobiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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