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Ecology. 2006 Sep;87(9):2160-70.

Reproductive isolation between Pogonomyrmex rugosus and two lineages with genetic caste determination.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405, USA.


Hybrid speciation occurs when combination of two interspecific genomes results in individuals that are of high fitness but reproductively incompatible with the parental species. Although hybrid speciation is a relatively common source of new species in plants, it appears to be a much rarer occurrence in animal taxa. Here we report on reproductive isolation and range overlap between the rough harvester ant Pogonomyrmex rugosus and two lineages with hybrid genotypes (H 1 and H2). Both lineages obligately interbreed and produce genetically distinct queen and worker offspring, a phenomenon referred to as genetic caste determination (GCD). Diploid offspring produced by gametes of the same lineage develop only into queens, whereas diploid offspring derived from gametes of distinct lineages develop into workers. We investigated small-scale patterns of gene flow between the parent and the two H lineages by sampling along an 80-km transect between a pure P. rugosus population and a two-lineage population. Microsatellite and mitochondrial markers both indicated virtually no gene flow between the parent species and either lineage even at sites where parental and H-lineage colonies co-occurred. The geographic ranges of the parental species and the two-lineage population were essentially parapatric, with a surprisingly narrow band of overlap and evidence of spatial structuring even at microgeographic scales within the transition zone. This suggests that ecological competition with the parent species plays a significant role in determining the evolutionary persistence and current distribution of the hybrid lineages and the genetic caste system.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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