Ant Colony Devoid of Males

A species of ants has colonies without males.

smithii is a species of ants found in the Amazon, which has recently been found to be devoid of males.

A University of Arizona biologist and her team have been studying this species for their success in cultivating. Many species are known to have fungal farms, where they domesticate and breed different types of fungus to be harvested for food.  Mycocepurus smithii have been discovered with fungal farms that dwarf others in both quantity and variety.

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During this research the team realized that there were no males to to be found in the colony. After further studying it was found that the species sex organs had essentially disappeared. The species instead reproduces by cloning as do some of the fungi that they cultivate.

All ants in the colony are either direct or indirect clones of the queen. This mechanism of reproduction has both advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages are that the females can spend more time cultivating fungi and all ants in the colony are able to produce offspring. A disadvantage is that there is little genetic diversity due to the cloning and therefore the colony can easily be devastated by illnesses.

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2 Responses to “Ant Colony Devoid of Males”
  1. Jemmo178 Says...

    On March 22, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    I hope my wife doesn’t here about this and get too many ideas. LOL

  2. Tim Says...

    On March 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    this is soooo cool its amazing how ants can even start to adapt to do something like this.

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