Genetic and behavioral divergence of macrogynes and microgynes in the red ant <em>Myrmica ruginodis</em>

  • Wolf, Jana, (Participant)

Description

I joined TEAM::ANTZZ as a PhD student in May 2012 after completing my master’s degree in Germany and South Africa. Since an undergraduate student I have worked with social insects such as honeybees, stingless bees, termites and ants. I am fascinated by their social structure and evolutionary processes influencing them.
The aim of my PhD project is to investigate genetic and behavioural divergence in the red ant Myrmica ruginodis. This species is well known for its size dimorphism of the queens ̶ macrogynes and microgynes. It has been hypothesized, that a reduction in queen size represents the first stage in a sympatric speciation..
Additionally a reproductive specialization will occur if the miniature queens represent an incipient stage of a parasitic relationship since microgyna will exhibit a tendency to specialize in producing sexual offspring. If macrogyna and microgyna coexist in the same nest this might lead to a genetic divergence between these two morphs.
Therefore I will analyze the colony kin structure of Myrmica ruginodis as well as conduct experiments related to assortative mating and comparing cuticular hydrocarbons of these two queen morphs.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date01/05/2012 → …