, Volume 59, Issue 4, pp 341–393 | Cite as

Karyotype evolution in Australian ants

  • Hirotami T. Imai
  • Ross H. Crozier
  • Robert W. Taylor


105 Australian ant species, including members of the important primitive genera Amblyopone and Myrmecia, were karyotyped using a C-banding air-drying technique. The observed haploid numbers in this survey ranged from 2n=84 (the highest known in the Hymenoptera) to 2n=9. Seven types of chromosome rearrangement were detected, namely: Robertsonian rearrangements, pericentric inversions, saltatory changes in constitutive heterochromatin, simple reciprocal translocations, complex translocations accompanied by significant loss of euchromatin, supernumerary (B-) chromosome variation, and chromosome deletion. Most ant karyotype evolution is explicable in terms of the first three of these. No evidence was found for polyploidy or centric dissociation being of evolutionary significance in ants. The C-band analysis supports a model in which pericentric inversions converting acrocentrics to other types greatly predominate over those with reverse effects. There appears to be little, if any, correlation between whether a species is morphologically primitive or advanced and its karyotype organization. The data provide little support for the ancestral chromosome number in ants having been high with subsequent reduction (“fusion hypothesis”), but rather suggest that the ancestral number was either very low with subsequent increase (“fission hypothesis”) or coincident with the present mode (“modal hypothesis”). Moreover, for these ant data, the modal hypothesis is interpretable as a subset of the fission hypothesis.


Pericentric Inversion Constitutive Heterochromatin Karyotype Evolution Modal Hypothesis Haploid Number 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hirotami T. Imai
    • 1
  • Ross H. Crozier
    • 2
  • Robert W. Taylor
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of CytogeneticsNational Institute of GeneticsShizuoka-kenJapan
  2. 2.School of ZoologyUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  3. 3.Division of EntomologyC.S.I.R.O.CanberraAustralia

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