Effects of a recent founder event on genetic diversity in wild populations of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta were studied, with particular attention given to the genetic sex-determining system. Diploid males are far more common relative to haploid males in introduced populations than in native populations of fire ants, and queens that produce diploid males account for a significantly larger proportion of the mated queens in introduced than in native populations. Differences between native and introduced populations in attributes of the mating systems (i.e., queen mating frequency or level of inbreeding) can be excluded as factors contributing to these different levels of diploid male production. Thus, we conclude that diploid males have increased in frequency in introduced populations because of a loss of allelic diversity at the sex-determining locus (loci). This loss of sex alleles has generated a substantial increase in the estimated segregational genetic load associated with production of sterile diploid males in introduced populations over the load in native populations. The loss of allelic diversity in the sex-determining system in introduced S. invicta is paralleled by a loss of electrophoretically detectable rare alleles at protein-encoding loci. Such concordance between these different types of markers is predicted because each of the many sex alleles present in the native populations is expected to be rare. Estimates of expected heterozygosity (Hexp) based on 76 electrophoretic loci do not differ significantly between the native and introduced fire ant populations, illustrating the lack of sensitivity of this measure for detecting many types of bottlenecks.
- Copyright © 1993 by the Genetics Society of America