Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]
Wurm Y, Wang J, Riba-Grognuz O, Corona M, Nygaard S, Hunt BG, Ingram KK, Falquet L, Nipitwattanaphon M, Gotzek D, Dijkstra MB, Oettler J, Comtesse F, Shih CJ, Wu WJ, Yang CC,Thomas J, Beaudoing E, Pradervand S, Flegel V, Cook ED, Fabbretti R, Stockinger H, Long L, Farmerie WG, Oakey J, Boomsma JJ, Pamilo P, Yi SV, Heinze J, Goodisman MA, Farinelli L,Harshman K, Hulo N, Cerutti L, Xenarios I, Shoemaker D, Keller L.
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ants have evolved very complex societies and are key ecosystem members. Some ants, such as the fire ant Solenopsis invicta, are also major pests. Here, we present a draft genome of S. invicta, assembled from Roche 454 and Illumina sequencing reads obtained from a focal haploid male and his brothers. We used comparative genomic methods to obtain insight into the unique features of the S. invicta genome. For example, we found that this genome harbors four adjacent copies of vitellogenin. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that an ancestral vitellogenin gene first underwent a duplication that was followed by possibly independent duplications of each of the daughter vitellogenins. The vitellogenin genes have undergone subfunctionalization with queen- and worker-specific expression, possibly reflecting differential selection acting on the queen and worker castes. Additionally, we identified more than 400 putative olfactory receptors of which at least 297 are intact. This represents the largest repertoire reported so far in insects. S. invicta also harbors an expansion of a specific family of lipid-processing genes, two putative orthologs to the transformer/feminizer sex differentiation gene, a functional DNA methylation system, and a single putative telomerase ortholog. EST data indicate that this S. invicta telomerase ortholog has at least four spliceforms that differ in their use of two sets of mutually exclusive exons. Some of these and other unique aspects of the fire ant genome are likely linked to the complex social behavior of this species.