Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 361–368 | Cite as

The spatial distribution does not affect host–parasite coevolution in Rossomyrmex ants

  • O. SanllorenteEmail author
  • P. Lorite
  • S. Devers
  • F. Ruano
  • A. Lenoir
  • A. Tinaut
Research Article


Host and parasite distributions are crucial to understand the coevolutionary outcomes of their relationships. This comes from the fact that the distribution of a species (fragmented vs. continuous habitats) influences its dispersal opportunities. In this work, we studied the effect of the spatial distribution on dispersal and coevolution between three species of social parasite ants of the genus Rossomyrmex (one distributed in high mountains in Spain and two distributed in extended plains in Turkey and Kazakhstan) and their ant hosts Proformica. We analysed the variation at the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase (COI) to infer female dispersal for parasites as well as the cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) of parasites and hosts to study their coevolutionary process, given that CHCs are involved in nestmate recognition. Our genetic results revealed a surprising scarce variation at COI for the three parasite species, suggesting selective forces that prevent from mutation fixation. Therefore, COI appeared to be a poor tool to study dispersal. Furthermore, chemical results showed population differentiation for all host–parasite systems, pointing that coevolution would take place at a local scale regardless of the spatial distribution or dispersal opportunities of the counterparts.


COI Coevolution Cuticular hydrocarbons Spatial distribution Rossomyrmex Slave-making ants 



We thank the direction of the National Park of Sierra Nevada and the Natural Park of Baza for allowing us to sample. Also, we thank A. Fernández for helping us during the sampling. J.D. Ibáñez-Álamo made useful comments and kindly helped us with the figures. Two anonymous reviewers also suggested several comments to improve this manuscript. This research was funded by a project of the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Organismo Autónomo Parques Nacionales. Ref: 78/2003. Also, a Grant from the Vicerrectorado de Relaciones Internacionales of the University of Granada to O. Sanllorente and A. Tinaut and a FPU grant to O. Sanllorente (Ministerio de Educación).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. Sanllorente
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. Lorite
    • 2
  • S. Devers
    • 3
  • F. Ruano
    • 1
  • A. Lenoir
    • 3
  • A. Tinaut
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología Experimental, Facultad de Ciencias ExperimentalesUniversidad de JaénJaénSpain
  3. 3.Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l’Insecte, IRBI-UMR CNRS 6035, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université François RabelaisToursFrance

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