Submitted to: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 27, 2006
Publication Date: June 9, 2006
Citation: Oi, D.H. 2006. EFFECT OF MONO- AND POLYGYNE SOCIAL FORMS ON TRANSMISSION AND SPREAD OF MICROSPORIDIA IN FIRE ANT POPULATIONS. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 92:146-151. Technical Abstract: Thelohania solenopsae is a pathogen of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, which debilitates queens and eventually causes the demise of colonies. Reductions of infected field populations signify its potential usefulness as a biological control agent. T. solenopsae can be transmitted by introducing infected brood into a colony. The social forms of the fire ant, that is, monogyny (single queen per colony) or polygyny (multiple queens per colony) are associated with different behaviors, such as territoriality, that affect the degree of intercolony brood transfer. T. solenopsae was found exclusively in polygyne colonies in Florida. Non-synchronous infections of queens and transovarial transmission favor the persistence and probability of detecting infections in polygynous colonies. However, queens or alates with the monogyne genotype can be infected and infections in monogyne field colonies have been reported from Louisiana and Argentina. Limited independent colony-founding capability and shorter dispersal of alate queens with the polygyne genotype relative to monogyne alates may facilitate the maintenance of infections in local polygynous populations. Demise of infected monogyne colonies can be twice as fast as in polygyne colonies and favors the pathogen’s persistence in polygyne fire ant populations. The social form of the fire ant reflects different physiological and behavioral aspects of the queen and colony that will impact T. solenopsae spread and ultimate usefulness for biological control.