Hierarchical analysis of genetic structure in native fire ant populations: results from three classes of molecular markers. Academic Article uri icon


  • We describe genetic structure at various scales in native populations of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta using two classes of nuclear markers, allozymes and microsatellites, and markers of the mitochondrial genome. Strong structure was found at the nest level in both the monogyne (single queen) and polygyne (multiple queen) social forms using allozymes. Weak but significant microgeographic structure was detected above the nest level in polygyne populations but not in monogyne populations using both classes of nuclear markers. Pronounced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) differentiation was evident also at this level in the polygyne form only. These microgeographic patterns are expected because polygyny in ants is associated with restricted local gene flow due mainly to limited vagility of queens. Weak but significant nuclear differentiation was detected between sympatric social forms, and strong mtDNA differentiation also was found at this level. Thus, queens of each form seem unable to establish themselves in nests of the alternate type, and some degree of assortative mating by form may exist as well. Strong differentiation was found between the two study regions using all three sets of markers. Phylogeographic analyses of the mtDNA suggest that recent limitations on gene flow rather than longstanding barriers to dispersal are responsible for this large-scale structure.

published proceedings

  • Genetics

author list (cited authors)

  • Ross, K. G., Krieger, M. J., Shoemaker, D. D., Vargo, E. L., & Keller, L.

citation count

  • 97

complete list of authors

  • Ross, KG||Krieger, MJ||Shoemaker, DD||Vargo, EL||Keller, L

publication date

  • October 1997