The sex life of fire ants has shed light on how new species may arise, according to a report in the 17 October issue of Nature. If populations are isolated geographically from one another, they can eventually evolve into several new species. Biologists have speculated that restrictive mating practices can also isolate populations and trigger speciation. Now a team led by Kenneth G. Ross, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, Athens, offers evidence for the process in fire ants. Analyzing DNA from different colonies, Ross's team found an unusual pattern of gene flow from one generation to the next.
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'Asexual' Ants May Be Having Sex After All
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Have you have seen ants this year? One of somewhere between 12, and 20, species , they are the scourge of gardeners — but also fascinating. The small, black, wingless workers run around the pavements, crawl up your plants tending aphids or collect tasty morsels from your kitchen. Ants have a caste system , where responsibilities are divided.
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Sex wars: Ant queens take sperm from males of other species
Scientists studying the habits of two related species of harvester ants have discovered that during sex, the queens will essentially steal sperm from unwitting male ants of the other species. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shed light on the evolutionary arms race between two species that can play out in a battle of the sexes. Researchers from the University of Vermont studied two species of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants that live in the desert around the border between Arizona and New Mexico. These two ant species can mate with each other, but these liasons only produce sterile hybrid ants. If he wants grandkids, a male has to avoid those inter-species hook-ups and find a queen of his own species to mate with.
Even ants can't completely swear off sex. A new survey of a Latin American species famed for being one of the world's few asexual ants has uncovered a surprising find: secret nooky. And that could explain why the insect has managed to survive for so long.
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