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Data from: Adaptive phenotypic variation among clonal ant workers

Cite this dataset

Hasegawa, Eisuke; Watanabe, Saori; Murakami, Yuuka; Ito, Fuminori (2018). Data from: Adaptive phenotypic variation among clonal ant workers [Dataset]. Dryad.


Phenotypic variations are observed in most organisms, but their significance is not always known. The phenotypic variations observed in social insects are exceptions. Genetically based response threshold variances have been identified among workers and are thought to play several important adaptive roles in social life, e.g. allocating tasks among workers according to demand, promoting the sustainability of the colony and forming the basis of rationality in collective decision-making. Several parthenogenetic ants produce clonal workers and new queens by asexual reproduction. It is not clearly known whether such genetically equivalent workers show phenotypic variations. Here, we demonstrate that clonal workers of the parthenogenetic ant Strumigenys membranifera show large threshold variances among clonal workers. A multi-locus genetic marker confirmed that colony members are genetic clones, but they showed variations in their sucrose response thresholds. We examined the changing pattern of the thresholds over time generating hypotheses regarding the mechanism underlying the observed phenotypic variations. The results support the hypothesis that epigenetic modifications that occur after eclosion into the adult form are the cause of the phenotypic variations in this asexual species.

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