Friday, November 05, 2004

Confirming what we all knew anyway, Acanthomyops is really just a derived Lasius:

Milan Janda, Dagmar Folková and Jan Zrzavý. 2004. Phylogeny of Lasius ants based on mitochondrial DNA and morphology, and the evolution of social parasitism in the Lasiini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Volume 33, Issue 3, December 2004, Pages 595-614.

Phylogeny of ants of the tribe Lasiini (Lasius, Acanthomyops, Prenolepis, Euprenolepis, Paratrechina, Pseudolasius, and Myrmecocystus) was analysed using 81 morphological, ecological, and behavioural characters (for 41 species) and mitochondrial DNA sequences (COI, COII, tRNA-Leu; for 19 species). The free-living subgenus Lasius s. str. is paraphyletic with respect to the rest of genus; the traditional “genus” Acanthomyops should be considered a part of Lasius s. lat.; free-living subgenus Cautolasius is a member of the clade of socially parasitic Lasius ants (=Chtonolasius + Acanthomyops + Austrolasius + Dendrolasius). The tree topology is congruent with two alternative scenarios of origin of the temporary social parasitism: (i) a single origin of the parasitic strategy in a derived subclade of Lasius and a secondary loss of this trait in Cautolasius, (ii) a parallel origin of the social parasitism within the clade of hypogeic Lasius ants (in Chtonolasius, and in Acanthomyops + Dendrolasius + Austrolasius). Emery’s rule in the strict sense does not apply to this group because most parasites exploit any ecologically available, even phylogenetically distant host species. The parasitic strategy in Lasius could have originated from the aggressive interactions between cofounding queens during pleometric colony founding and/or from the secondary queen adoption.


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