Ancestral developmental potential facilitates parallel evolution in ants

Rajendhran Rajakumar, Diego San Mauro, Michiel B. Dijkstra, Ming H. Huang, Diana E. Wheeler, Francois Hiou-Tim, Abderrahman Khila, Michael Cournoyea, Ehab Abouheif

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110 Scopus citations

Abstract

Complex worker caste systems have contributed to the evolutionary success of advanced ant societies; however, little is known about the developmental processes underlying their origin and evolution. We combined hormonal manipulation, gene expression, and phylogenetic analyses with field observations to understand how novel worker subcastes evolve. We uncovered an ancestral developmental potential to produce a "supersoldier" subcaste that has been actualized at least two times independently in the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole. This potential has been retained and can be environmentally induced throughout the genus. Therefore, the retention and induction of this potential have facilitated the parallel evolution of supersoldiers through a process known as genetic accommodation. The recurrent induction of ancestral developmental potential may facilitate the adaptive and parallel evolution of phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-82
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume335
Issue number6064
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 6 2012

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Cite this

Rajakumar, R., San Mauro, D., Dijkstra, M. B., Huang, M. H., Wheeler, D. E., Hiou-Tim, F., Khila, A., Cournoyea, M., & Abouheif, E. (2012). Ancestral developmental potential facilitates parallel evolution in ants. Science, 335(6064), 79-82. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1211451