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  • Alix Matthews,
  • Katrin Kellner,
  • Jon Seal
Alix Matthews
Arkansas State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Katrin Kellner
University of Texas at Tyler
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Jon Seal
University of Texas at Tyler
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For nearly all organisms, dispersal is a fundamental life history trait that can shape their ecology and evolution. Variation in dispersal capabilities within a species exists and can influence population genetic structure and ecological interactions. In fungus-gardening (attine) ants, co-dispersal of ants and mutualistic fungi is crucial to the success of this obligate symbiosis. Female-biased dispersal (and gene flow) may be favored in attines because virgin queens carry the responsibility of dispersing the fungi, but a paucity of research has made this conclusion difficult. Here, we investigate dispersal of the fungus-gardening ant Trachymyrmex septentrionalis using a combination of maternally- (mitochondrial DNA) and biparentally-inherited (microsatellites) markers. We found three distinct, spatially isolated mitochondrial DNA haplotypes. Two were found in the Florida panhandle and the other was found in the Florida peninsula. In contrast, biparental markers illustrated significant gene flow across this region and minimal spatial structure. The differential patterns uncovered from mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite markers suggest that most long-distance ant dispersal is male-biased and that females (and concomitantly the fungus) have more limited dispersal capabilities. Consequently, the limited female dispersal is likely an important bottleneck for the fungal symbiont. This bottleneck could slow fungal genetic diversification, which has significant implications for both ant hosts and fungal symbionts regarding population genetics, species distributions, adaptive responses to environmental change, and coevolutionary patterns.
17 Oct 2020Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
19 Oct 2020Submission Checks Completed
19 Oct 2020Assigned to Editor
21 Oct 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Oct 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
08 Dec 20201st Revision Received
09 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
09 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
09 Dec 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 Dec 2020Editorial Decision: Accept