Molecular Phylogeny of the Ant Subfamily Formicinae (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) from China Based on Mitochondrial Genes

Zhilin Chen, Shan Yi Zhou, DuoDuo Ye, Yuan Chen, Chunwen Lu


To resolve long-standing discrepancies in the relationships among genera within the ant subfamily Formicinae, a phylogenetic study of Chinese Formicine ants based on three mitochondria genes (Cyt b, COI, COII) was conducted. Phylogenetic trees obtained in the current study are consistent with several previously reported trees based on morphology, and specifically confirm and reinforce the classifications made by Bolton (1994). The tribes Lasiini, Formicini, Plagiolepidini and Camponotini are strongly supported, while Oecophyllini has moderate support despite being consistent across all analyses. We have also established that the genus Camponotus and Polyrhachis are indeed not monophyletic. Additionally, we found strong evidence for Polyrhachis paracamponota, as described by Wu and Wang in 1991, to be corrected as Camponotus based on molecular, morphological and behavioral data.


Ant Phylogeny; Formicidae; Cyt b; COI; COII

Full Text:



Agosti, D. (1991). Revision of the oriental ant genus Cladomyrma, with an outline of the higher classification of the Formicinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). System. Entom., 16: 293-310.

Astruc, C., Julien, J. F., Errard, C. & Lenoir, A. (2004). Phylogeny of ants (Formicidae) based on morphology and DNA sequence data. Mol. Phylog. Evol., 31: 880-893. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2003.10.024

Baroni Urbani, C., Bolton, B. & Ward, P. S. (1992). The internal phylogeny of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). System. Entom., 17: 301-329.

Bolton. B. (1994). Identification guide to the ant genera of the world. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 222 pp.

Bolton. B. (2011). Catalogue of species-group taxa. (accessed date: 1 March, 2011).

Bolton. B. (2003). Synopsis and classification of Formicidae. Mem. Am. Entomol. Inst., 71: 1-370.

Brady. S.G., Gadau, J. & Ward, P.S. (1999). Is the ant genus Camponotus paraphyletic? 4th International Hymenopterists Conference, Glen Osmond, South Australia, Canberra, Australia.

Brady, S.G., Gadau, J. & Ward, P.S. 2000. Systematics of the ant genus Camponotus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): a preliminary analysis using data from the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I. In: Austin, A.D., Dowton, M. (Eds.), Hymenoptera. Evolution, Biodiversity and Biological Control. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria, pp. 131-139, xi+ 468 pp.

Brady, S.G., Fisher, B.L., Schultz, T.R. & Ward, P.S. (2006). Evaluating alternative hypotheses for the early evolution and diversification of ants. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA., 103: 18172-18177. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0605858103

Chiotis, M., Jermiin, L.S. & Crozier, R.H. (2000). A Molecular Framework for the Phylogeny of the Ant Subfamily Dolichoderinae. Mol. Phylog. Evol., 17(1): 108-116. doi: 10.1006/mpev.2000.0821

Dlussky, G.M. (1999). The first find of the Formicoidea (Hymenoptera) in the lower Cretaceous of the northern hemisphere. [In Russian.] Paleontol. Zhurnal, 3: 62-66.

Emery, C. (1925). Hymenoptera. Fam. Formicidae. Subfam. Formicinae. Gen. Insectorum, 183: 1-302.

Folmer, O., Black, M., Hoeh, W., Lutz, R. & Vrijenhoek, R. (1994). DNA primers for amplification of mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase subunit I from diverse metazoan invertebrates. Mol. Mar. Biol. and Biotech., 3(5): 294-299.

Grimaldi, D., Agosti, D. & Carpenter, J.M. (1997). New and rediscovered primitive ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Cretaceous amber from New Jersey, and their phylogenetic relationships. Am. Mus. Nov., 3208: 1-43.

Huelsenbeck, J.P. & Ronquist, F. (2001). MRBAYES: Bayesian inference of phylogeny. Bioinformatics, 17: 754-755.

Johnson, R.N., Agapow, P.M. & Crozier, R.H. (2003). A tree island approach to inferring phylogeny in the ant subfamily Formicinae, with especial reference to the evolution of weaving. Mol. Phylog. Evol., 29: 317-330. doi: 10.1016/S1055-7903(803)00114-3

LaPolla, J.S, Brady, S.G. & Shattuck, S.O. (2010). Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Prenolepis genus-group of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Syst. Entom., 35: 118-131. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2009.00492.x

Moreau, C.S.., Bell, C.D., Vila, R., Archibald, S.B. & Pierce, N.E. (2006). Phylogeny of the ants: diversification in the age of angiosperms. Science, 312: 101-104. doi: 10.1126/science.1124891

Navarro E., Jaffre T., Gauthier D., Gourbiere F., Rinaudo G., Simonet P. & Normand P. (1999). Distribution of Gymnostoma spp. microsymbiotic Frankia strains in New Caledonia is related to soil type and to host-plant species. Mol. Ecol., 8: 1781-1788.

Nylander, J.A.A., Ronquist, F., Huelsenbeck, J.P. & Nieves-Aldrey, J.L. (2004). Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of combined data. Biol., 53: 47-67 doi: 10.1080/10635150490264699

Nylander, J.A.A. (2004). MrModeltest v2, Program distributed by author. Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Uppsala.

Ouellette, G.D., Fisher, B.L. & Girman, D.J. (2006). Molecular systematics of basal subfamilies of ants using 28S rRNA (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Mol. Phylog. Evol., 40: 359-369. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2006.03.017

Posada, D. & Buckley, T.R. (2004). Model selection and model averaging in phylogenetics: advantages of Akaike information criterion and Bayesian approaches over likelihood ratio tests. Syst. Biol., 53: 793-808. doi: 10.1080/10635150490522304

Ronquist, F. & Huelsenbeck, J.P. (2003). MRBAYES 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models. Bioinformatics, 19: 1572-1574.

Saux, C., Fisher, B.L. & Spicer, G.S. (2004). Dracula ant phylogeny as inferred by nuclear 28S rDNA sequence and implications for ant systematics (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Mol. Phylog. Evol., 33: 457-468. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2004.06.017

Swofford, D.L. (2002). PAUP*. Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony (*and Other Methods), Vol. 4. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.

Thompson, J.D., Gibson, T.J., Plewniak, F., Jeanmougin, F. & Higgins, D.G. (1997). The ClustalX windows interface: flexible strategies for multiple sequence alignment aided by quality analysis tools. Nuc. Acids Res., 25: 4876-4882.

Trager, J.C. (1984). A revision of the genus Nylanderia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the continental United States. Sociobiology, 9: 49-162.

Villesen, P., Mueller, U.G., Schultz, T.R., Adams, R.M.M. & Bouck, A.C. (2004). Evolution of ant-cultivar specialization and cultivar switching in Apterostigma fungus-growing ants. Evolution, 58: 2252-2265. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2004.tb01601.x

Vogler, A.P. & Pearson, D.L. (1996). A molecular phylogeny of the tiger beetles (Cicindelidae): congruence of mitochondrial and nuclear rDNA data sets. Mol. Phylog. Evol., 6: 321-338.

Wang, C.L. & Wu, J. (1991). Taxonomic Studies on the Genus Polyrhachis Mayr of China (Hymenoptera: Formicinae). For. Res., 4(6): 596-601.

Ward, P.S. & Brady, S.G. (2003). Phylogeny and biogeography of the ant subfamily Myrmeciinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Invert. Syst., 17, 361-386. doi: 10.1071/IS02046

Ward, P.S. & Downie, D.A. (2005). The ant subfamily Pseudomyrmecinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): phylogeny and evolution of big-eyed arboreal ants. Syst. Entom., 30: 310-335. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3113.2004.00281.x

Ward, P.S., Brady, S.G., Fisher, B.L. & Schultz, T.R. (2005). Assembling the ant “Tree of Life” (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecol. Nachrichten, 7: 87-90.

Ward, P.S. (2007). Phylogeny, classification, and species-level taxonomy of ants. (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa, 1668: 549-563.

Wheeler, W.M. (1922). Ants of the American Museum Congo expedition. A contribution to the myrmecology of Africa. VII. Keys to the genera and subgenera of ants. Bul. Am.. Mus. Nat. Hist., 45: 631-710.

Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. (1953). The ant larvae of the subfamily Formicinae. Ann. Entom. Soc. Am., 46: 126-171.

Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1985. A simplified conspectus of the Formicidae. Trans. Am. Entom. Soc., 111: 255-264.

Wilson, E.O. (1955). A monographic revision of the ant genus Lasius. Bul. Mus. Compar. Zool., 113: 1-201.

Wilson, E.O, & Taylor, R.W. (1964). A fossil ant colony: new evidence of social antiquity. Psyche, 71: 93-103.

Wilson, E.O. & Holldobler, B. (2005). The rise of the ants: a phylogenetic and ecological explanation. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 102: 7411-7414.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2015: 0.702