“Supergene” Determines Colonial Structure: Study

A research conducted by Yannick Wurm of Queen Mary, University of London, said that "supergene", DNA fusion in fire ants, determines their colonial structure. He was surprised with this discovery. DNA fusion has been found to be the first "social chromosome" to be discovered.

According to the study, genes marked as B and b on chromosomes determines the type of colony an ant belongs to. LiveScience said that the worker ants which carry B gene will accept a single queen with BB variant. An ant with b variant will accept multiple queens with Bb variant.

This explanation has been the first to be given for these "social genes". Now, researchers are looking to find similar traits in other social insects. They are further spreading tentacles of their research to find which of the 616 genes in the gene sequence are responsible for difference in ants.

Study also linked chromosomal differences among the ants to anatomical differences, the size of male workers, the structure of their sperm and the queen's productiveness.

Wurm said that the discovery could help in developing pest control. He supported this by saying;" A pesticide could artificially deactivate the genes in to social chromosome and induce social anarchy within the colony."


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