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Keywords:

  • Diacamma cyaneiventre;
  • gamergate;
  • hierarchical genetic structure;
  • microsatellites;
  • mtDNA;
  • population viscosity

Abstract

In this study we investigated the population genetic structure of the queenless ant Diacamma cyaneiventre. This species, lacking winged queens, is likely to have a restricted female dispersal. We used both mitochondrial and microsatellite markers to assess the consequence of such restricted female dispersal at three geographical scales: within a given locality (< 1 km), between localities within a given region (< 10 km) and between regions (> 36 km). Within a locality, a strong population structure was observed for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) whereas weak or nonexistent population genetic structure was observed for the microsatellites (around 5% of the value for mtDNA). Male gene flow was estimated to be about 20–30 times higher than female gene flow at this scale. At a larger spatial scale, very strong genetic differentiation for both markers was observed between localities — even within a single region. Female dispersal is nonexistent at these scales and male dispersal is very restricted, especially between regions. The phylogeographical structure of the mtDNA haplotypes as well as the very low genetic diversity of mtDNA within localities indicate that new sites are colonized by a single migration event from adjacent localities, followed by successive colony fissions. These patterns of genetic variability and differentiation agree with what is theoretically expected when colonization events are kin-structured and when, following colonization, dispersion is mainly performed by males.