The potential for gene flow in a dependent lineage system of a harvester ant: Fair meiosis in the f1 generation

Meghan M. Curry, Diana E. Wheeler, Kimberly Yang, Kirk E. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We investigated the potential for gene flow in a dependent lineage (DL) system of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex. Each DL system is composed of 2 reproductively isolated lineages that are locked in an obligate mutualism. The genetic components that produce the worker phenotype are acquired by hybridizing with the partner lineage. In the mating flight, queens of both lineages mate with multiple males from each lineage. During colony growth and reproduction, eggs fertilized by partner-lineage sperm produce F1 hybrid workers with interlineage genomes, whereas eggs fertilized by same-lineage sperm result in the development of new queens with intralineage genomes. New males are typically produced from unfertilized eggs laid by the pure-lineage queen but in her absence may be produced by interlineage F1 workers. We investigated the potential for interlineage gene flow in this system using 2 classes of lineage-specific nuclear markers to identify hybrid genome combinations. We confirmed the production of viable interlineage F1 reproductive females in field colonies, the occurrence of which is associated with the relative frequencies of each lineage in the population: interlineage F1 queens occurred only in the rare lineage of the population with dramatically skewed lineage frequencies. In laboratory colonies, we detected fair meiosis in interlineage F1 workers leading to the production of viable and haploid interlineage F2males. We conclude that the genomes of each lineage recombine freely, suggesting that extrinsic postzygotic selection maintains the integrity of each lineage genome. We compare our findings with those of the H1/H2 DL system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-384
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene flow
  • Pogonomyrmex
  • Postzygotic selection
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Symmetrical social hybridogenesis
  • Worker-produced males

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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