Parentage analyses in ant colonies using simple sequence repeat loci


  • Jay Evans studies the behavioural ecology and evolution of ant colonies with multiple queens. He is a PhD student in the laboratory of Jon Seger (University of Utah, Biology). They share an interest in molecular evolution and in the use of DNA-level loci for answering questions in population genetics. These interests are nurtured by collaborations with Glenn Herrick and Ryk Ward, molecular biologists in the Medical School at the University of Utah, and with Gordon Lark, in the Biology Department.

Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. USA. Tel.(801)581–8478. Fax (801) 581–4668. e-mail:


In ants of the genus Myrmica, female progeny may be the offspring of one to several different queens. In addition, both workers and queens are capable of producing haploid male offspring. Even in such complex colonies, parentage can be assigned on the basis of genotypic variation at highly polymorphic simple sequence repeat loci. Methods are described for isolating and screening dinucleotide repeat loci in ants. Three independent loci, Myrt2, Myrt3 and Myrt4, show expected heterozygosities of 0.94, 0.92 and 0.95, respectively. When used in parallel these loci should be sufficient to establish parentage in the vast majority of screened colonies. An initial screening indicates that males are produced by workers in the subalpine ant Myrmica ‘near tahoensis’.