Hinterland Green

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Study: Fungus-Gardening Ant Has Given Up Sex Completely

ScienceDaily (2010-01-09) -- The complete asexuality of a widespread fungus-gardening ant, the only ant species in the world known to have dispensed with males entirely, has recently been confirmed. Most social insects—the wasps, ants and bees—are relatively used to daily life without males. Their colonies are well run by swarms of sterile sisters lorded over by an egg-laying queen. But, eventually, all social insect species have the ability to produce a crop of males who go forth in the world to fertilize new queens and propagate.

Queens of the ant Mycocepurus smithii reproduce without fertilization and males appear to be completely absent, report Christian Rabeling, Ulrich Mueller and their Brazilian colleagues in PLoS ONE this week."Animals that are completely asexual are relatively rare, which makes this is a very interesting ant," says Rabeling, an ecology, evolution and behavior graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. "Asexual species don't mix their genes through recombination, so you expect harmful mutations to accumulate over time and for the species to go extinct more quickly than others. They don't generally persist for very long over evolutionary time."

Article continues http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090825203339.htm
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