Submitted to: Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/8/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The tools of molecular biology can play a role in answering many questions related to the fire ant. We have identified two questions that have arisen as a result of previous chemotaxonomy research (Vander Meer and Lofgren 1990). First was the discovery of hybridization between the red and black forms of imported fire ants. The fact that the hybrid is morphologically almost indistinguishable from one of its parents (S. richteri) and the hybridization event itself negated the original criteria used to separate the red imported fire ant into the new species, S. invicta.. Our results brought into question whether or not the two were indeed different species. Here in the U.S. there are no apparent pre-mating, mating, or post-mating isolation mechanisms. A search in South America for their distinctive chromatotypes revealed that S. invicta and S. richteri were geographically separated and did not have the opportunity to mate. In the United States this pre-mating isolation mechanism did not exist. However, mating between the two forms may not be symmetrical, leading to incomplete gene flow. Molecular biology offers the tools needed to address this question.