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BMC Evol Biol. 2018 Mar 28;18(1):40. doi: 10.1186/s12862-018-1159-4.

Phylogenomics of palearctic Formica species suggests a single origin of temporary parasitism and gives insights to the evolutionary pathway toward slave-making behaviour.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland. jonathan.romiguier@umontpellier.fr.
2
CNRS UMR-5554, Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution de Montpellier, Université de Montpellier, 34095, Montpellier, France. jonathan.romiguier@umontpellier.fr.
3
Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.
4
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, #4200-6270 University Blvd, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
5
Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Quartier Sorge, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.
6
Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The ants of the Formica genus are classical model species in evolutionary biology. In particular, Darwin used Formica as model species to better understand the evolution of slave-making, a parasitic behaviour where workers of another species are stolen to exploit their workforce. In his book "On the Origin of Species" (1859), Darwin first hypothesized that slave-making behaviour in Formica evolved in incremental steps from a free-living ancestor.

METHODS:

The absence of a well-resolved phylogenetic tree of the genus prevent an assessment of whether relationships among Formica subgenera are compatible with this scenario. In this study, we resolve the relationships among the 4 palearctic Formica subgenera (Formica str. s., Coptoformica, Raptiformica and Serviformica) using a phylogenomic dataset of 945 genes for 16 species.

RESULTS:

We provide a reference tree resolving the relationships among the main Formica subgenera with high bootstrap supports.

DISCUSSION:

The branching order of our tree suggests that the free-living lifestyle is ancestral in the Formica genus and that parasitic colony founding could have evolved a single time, probably acting as a pre-adaptation to slave-making behaviour.

CONCLUSION:

This phylogenetic tree provides a solid backbone for future evolutionary studies in the Formica genus and slave-making behaviour.

KEYWORDS:

Ants; Formica; Phylogenomics; Slave-making; Social parasitism; Transcriptomes

PMID:
29592795
PMCID:
PMC5872393
DOI:
10.1186/s12862-018-1159-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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