Paternally inherited alleles in male body parts of an ant (Diacamma sp.) sex mosaic: implication for androgenetic male production in the Hymenoptera

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Sex mosaicism, also called gynandromorphism, refers to an accidental phenomenon in dioecious organisms (mainly animals) in which an individual phenotype includes both female and male characteristics. Despite the rarity of this phenomenon, elucidating the mechanisms of naturally occurring sex mosaicism should deepen our understanding of diverse sex determination and differentiation systems in nature. We report the results of a genetic study of a sex mosaic individual of the ant Diacamma sp. from Japan’s Okinawa Island. Parentage analysis using microsatellite markers revealed that the female and male parts of the sex mosaic showed different inheritance patterns: female parts had alleles consistent with their biparental inheritance, whereas most of the male parts had alleles consistent with their paternal inheritance (i.e., androgenesis). We discuss plausible cytogenetic mechanisms that gave rise to the male parts of this individual: polyspermy and the subsequent independent cleavage by a surplus sperm pronucleus, and maternal genome elimination after fertilization of an ovule. Moreover, we hypothesize that the androgenetically produced males found in some Hymenoptera might share the same underlying cytogenetic mechanism with hymenopteran sex mosaicism.

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We thank T. Akino and R. Yasudai for assistance in the field survey and M. Okamoto and A. Mikheyev for discussions. We also thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments. SD was supported by Research Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists (22-9877).

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Correspondence to S. Dobata or H. Shimoji.

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S. Dobata and H. Shimoji contributed equally to this work.

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Dobata, S., Shimoji, H., Ohnishi, H. et al. Paternally inherited alleles in male body parts of an ant (Diacamma sp.) sex mosaic: implication for androgenetic male production in the Hymenoptera. Insect. Soc. 59, 55–59 (2012) doi:10.1007/s00040-011-0187-5

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  • Gynandromorph
  • Androgenesis
  • Haplodiploid
  • Male clonality
  • Polyspermy