Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 2, 2003
Publication Date: October 30, 2003
Citation: Oi, D.H., Valles, S.M., Pereira, R.M. 2003. PREVALENCE OF THE FIRE ANT PATHOGEN THELOHANIA SOLENOPSAE IN MONOGYNE AND POLYGYNE COLONIES. Meeting Abstract. P:42-43. Technical Abstract: Thelohania solenopsae is a microsporidian pathogen of imported fire ants that debilitates fire ant queens and can cause reductions in fire ant populations. Observations from field inoculation sites and in naturally infected areas suggested that sustained infections only occurred in polygynous populations. To confirm these observations, we determined the natural prevalence of T. solenopsae in three pastures in Florida which had varying ratios of monogyne and polygyne red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, colonies. For individual colonies at each study site, social form (i.e. monogyny or polygyny) was determined by examining the genotype of ants at the Gp-9 locus. T. solenopsae infection was determined by a PCR method which utilized oligonucleotide primers specific to the T. solenopsae 16S rRNA gene. T. solenopsae infections were only detected in polygynous colonies (100 of 164 total colonies infected [61%]). Of the polygynous colonies, 83% (100/120) were infected. None of the 44 monogyne colonies for all three sites were infected with T. solenopsae. A chi-square test of independence over all study sites indicated that the rate of T. solenopsae infection was not independent of S. invicta social form ('2 = 93.96, df=1, P < 0.001). While T. solenopsae was only detected in polygynous colonies in the field, T. solenopsae infections were found in ants with the monogyne genotype. Four colonies reared from field collected, newly-mated queens that were naturally infected with T. solenopsae, were found to exhibit the monogyne social form. Thus, T. solenopsae infections can occur in genotypes of both social forms.