Migration between nests in the Australian arid-zone ant Rhytidoponera sp. 12 revealed by DGGE analyses of mitochondrial DNA


W. Tek Tay Tel.: + 61-3-9479-2272. Fax: + 61-3-9479-2480. E-mail: gentt@genome.gen.latrobe.edu.au


Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of a PCR-amplified region of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) including a large part of the cytochrome b gene revealed four haplotypes among worker ants from 75 colonies of the queenless ant Rhytidoponera sp. 12. The DGGE results were checked by sequencing examples of the haplotypes; all changes were transitions and two haplotypes differed by only a single substitution. Previous work (e.g. Crozier et al. 1984) showed that intranest relatedness is low for nuclear genes yet neighbouring nests are related; gene flow via winged males appeared the best explanation for this phenomenon. Two mtDNA haplotypes were found in 34.7% of the colonies studied, showing that female movement also occurs between nests. Migration of mated individuals on such a large scale when the number of reproductives is relatively small is unexpected (Crozier & Pamilo 1996). An observed tendency to clumping of the haplotypes is in accordance with the wingless nature of the female dispersers.