The question of how reproductives and sterile workers differentiate within eusocial groups has long been a core issue in socio-biology because it requires the loss of individual direct fitness in favor of indirect or group-level fitness gains. The evolution of social behavior requires that differentiation between workers and female reproductives be environmentally determined, because genetically determined sterility would be quickly eliminated. Nevertheless, we report clear evidence of genetic caste determination in populations of two seed harvester ant species common to the southwestern USA, Pogonomyrmex rugosus and Pogonomyrmex barbatus. The genetic differentiation between workers and queens is found only in areas of sympatry of the two species, and thus appears to arisen from hybridization. Our data suggest that this hybridization has had a profound historical effect on the caste determination systems and mating patterns of each of these species.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 11 2002|
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