Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ants inhabit 'world without sex'

md-BILL-Ant.jpgAn Amazonian ant has dispensed with sex and developed into an all-female species, researchers have found. The ants reproduce via cloning - the queen ants copy themselves to produce genetically identical daughters.

This species - the first ever to be shown to reproduce entirely without sex - cultivates a garden of fungus, which also reproduces asexually. The finding of the ants' "world without sex" is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Anna Himler, the biologist from the University of Arizona who led the research, told BBC News that the team used a battery of tests to verify their findings. By "fingerprinting" DNA of the ant species - Mycocepurus smithii - they found them all to be clones of the colony's queen.

And when they dissected the female insects, they found them to be physically incapable of mating, as an essential part of their reproductive system known as the "mussel organ" had degenerated.

via BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Ants inhabit 'world without sex'.

Robot ant link here.

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