The genetic characterization of Myrmelachista spp. Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) specimens collected in the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil


  • Márcia Akemi Nakano Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes
  • Vitor Fernandes Miranda Universidade Estadual Paulista
  • Rodrigo Machado Feistosa Universidade Federal do Paraná
  • Maria Santina Morini Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes



twigs, ISSR molecular markers, Formicinae, UPGMA, similarity


Arboreal ants of the genus Myrmelachista, which have ecologically important relationships with different vegetable species, are found exclusively in the Neotropical region. These ant species are difficult to identify, and their taxonomy remains controversial; moreover, little is known regarding their biology. The objective of the present work is to assess the genetic similarities and dissimilarities between and within Myrmelachista species, with the goal of expanding knowledge of the relationships among the taxa of this genus. Sample collection in selected regions of the dense ombrophile forest of southeastern Brazil yielded 256 nests, which were found in vegetation or among scattered twigs in the leaf litter; eight species were recorded. A total of 180 specimens were analyzed, producing 123 molecular characters. Data analyses revealed similarity relationships that allowed the examined species to be classified into the following groups: (1) Myrmelachista sp. 4, M. nodigera, M. ruszkii and M. gallicola; (2) M. catharinae and M. arthuri; (3) M. reticulata; and (4) Myrmelachista sp. 7. The study results also revealed the existence of two morphological variants of M. catharinae; M. arthuri was more closely related to one of these M. catharinae variants than to the other variant. The present work provides important information regarding genetic variation among Myrmelachista species that may contribute to interpreting the complex morphology of this genus.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Márcia Akemi Nakano, Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes

Núcleo de Ciências Ambientais

Vitor Fernandes Miranda, Universidade Estadual Paulista

Departamento de Biologia

Rodrigo Machado Feistosa, Universidade Federal do Paraná

Departamento de Zoologia

Maria Santina Morini, Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes

Núcleo de Ciências Ambientais


Al-otaibi, S. A. (2008). Genetic variability in mite-resistant honey bee using ISSR molecular markers. Arab Journal of Biotecnology, 11: 241-252.

Amalin, D. M., Pena, J. E., Mcsorley, R., Browning, H. W. & Crane, J. H. (2001). Comparison of different sampling methods and effect of pesticide application on spider populations in lime orchards in south florida. Environmental Entomology, 30: 1021-1027. doi: 10.1603/0046-225X-30.6.1021. DOI:

Bolton, B., Alpert, G., Ward, P. S. & Naskrecki, P. (2006). Bolton`s catalogue of ants of the world. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. CD-ROM.

Bolton, B. (2013). An online catalog of the ants of the world. Available from (accessed [November, 30, 2013])

Borba, R. S., Garcia, M. S., Kovaleski, A., Oliveira, A. C., Zimmer, P. D., Castelo-Branco, J. S. & Malone, G. (2005). Dissimilaridade genética de linhagens de Trichogramma Westwood (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) através de marcadores moleculares ISSR. Neotropical Entomology, 34: 565-569. DOI:

Bornet, B. & Branchard, M. (2001). Nonanchored Inter Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR) markers: reproducible and specific tools for genome fingerprinting. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter, 19: 209-215. DOI:

Brady, S. G., Schultz, T. R., Fisher, B. L. & Ward, P. S. (2006). From de cover: evaluating alternative hypotheses for the early evolution and diversification of ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 103: 18172-18177. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0605858103. DOI:

Brown, W. L. (2000). Diversity of ants. In: Agosti, D., Majer, J. D., Alonso, L. T. & Schultz, T. R. (eds.). Ants: standard methods for measuring and monitoring biodiveristy. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press 45-46.

Dusinsky, R., Kudela, M., Stloukalova, V. & Jedlicka, L. (2006). Use of inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers for discrimination between and within species of blackflies (Diptera: Simuliidae). Biologia, Bratislava, 61: 299-304. DOI:

Edwards, D. P., Frederickson, M. E., Shepard, G. H. & Yu, D. W. (2009). A plant needs ants like a dog needs fleas: Myrmelachista schumanni ants gall many trees species to create housing. American Naturalist, 174: 734-740. doi: 10.1086/606022. DOI:

Fernández, F. & Sendoya, S. (2004). Lista de las hormigas Neotropicales (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Biota Colombiana, 5: 5-27.

Frederickson, M. E. (2005). Ant species confer different partner benefits on two neotropical myrmecophytes. Oecologia, 143: 387-395. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.0415. DOI:

Gupta, M., Chyiy, S., Romero-Severson, J. & Owen, J. I. (1994). Amplification of DNA markers from evolutionarily diverse genomes using single primers of simple-sequence repeats. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 89: 998-1006. DOI:

Haber, W. A., Frankie, G. W., Baker, H. G., Baker, I. & Koptur, S. (1981). Ants like flower nectar. Biotropica, 13: 211-214. DOI:

Kempf, W. (1972). Catálogo abreviado das formigas da Região Neotropical (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Studia Entomologica, 15: 1-4.

Ketterl, J., Verhaagh, M., Bihn, J. H., Brandão, C. R. F. & Engels, W. (2003). Spectrum of ants associated with Araucaria angustifolia trees and their relations to hemipteran trophobionts. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment, 38: 199-206. DOI:

Kovach, W. L. (2007). MVSP 3.1: multivariate statistical packkage. (accessed date: 13 March, 2010).

Kusnezov, N. (1951). Myrmelachista en la Patagônia (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Acta Zoologica Lilloana, 11: 353-365.

Lazar Software. CP ATLAS 2.0. (2009). (accessed date: 1 March, 2010).

León, J. H. & Jones, W. A. (2005). Genetic differentiation among geographic populations of Gonatocerus ashmeadi, the predominant egg parasitoid of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca coagulata. Journal of Insect Science, 5: 1-9. DOI:

Longino, J. T. (2006). A taxonomic review of the genus Myrmelachista (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica. Zootaxa, 1141: 1-54. DOI:

Luque, C., Legal, L., Saudter, H., Gers, C. & Wink, M. (2002). Brief report ISSR (Inter Simple Sequence Repeats) as genetic markers in Noctuids (Lepidoptera). Hereditas, 136: 251-253. DOI:

Mcnett, K., Longino, J., Barriga, P., Vargas, O., Phillips, K. & Sagers, C. L. (2010). Stable isotope investigation of a cryptic ant-plant association: Myrmelachista flavocotea (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Ocotea spp. (Lauraceae). Insectes Sociaux, 57: 67-72. doi: 10.1007/s00040-009-0051-z. DOI:

Moreau, C. S., Bell, C. D., Vila, R., Archibald, B. & Piercel, N. (2006). Phylogeny of the ants: diversification in the age of Angiosperms. Science, 312: 101-104. DOI:

Nakano, M. A. (2010). Caracterização morfológica, morfométrica e molecular de espécies de Myrmelachista Roger, 1865 (Formicidae: Formicinae) do Alto Tietê. Dissertação de Mestrado em Biotecnologia, Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes, SP, 137p.

Nakano, M. A., Feitosa , R. M., Moraes, C.O., Adriano, L. D. C., Hengles, E. P., Longui, E. L. & Morini, M.S.C. (2012). Assembly of Myrmelachista Roger (Formicidae: Formicinae) in twigs fallen on the leaf litter of Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Journal of Natural History, 46: 2103-2115. doi:10.1080/00222933.2012.707247. DOI:

Nakano, M. A., Miranda, V. F. O., Souza, D. R., Feitosa, R. M. & Morini, M. S. C. (2013). Ocurrence and natural history of Myrmelachista Roger (Formicidae: Formicinae) in the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 86: 169-179. DOI:

Nei, M. & Li, W. H. (1979). Mathematical model for studying genetic variation in terms of restriction endonucleases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 76: 5269-5273. DOI:

Quirán, E. M. & Martínez, J. J. (2006). Redescripción de la obrera de Myrmelachista gallicola (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) y primera cita para la provincial de La Pampa (Argentina). Revista de la Sociedad Entomológica Argentina, 65: 89-92.

Reineke, A., Karlovsky, P. & Zebitz, P. W. (1998). Preparation and purification of DNA from insects for AFLP analysis. Insect Molecular Biology, 7: 95-99. DOI:

Renner, S. S. & Ricklefs, R. E. (1998). Herbicidal activity of domatia-inhabiting ants in patches of Tococa guianensis and Clidemia heterophylla. Biotropica, 30: 324-327. DOI:

Sambrook, J., Fritsch, E. F. & Maniatis, T. (1989). Molecular Cloning: a laboratory manual. 2. ed. Cold Spring: Harbor Laboratory Press.

Snelling, R. R. & Hunt, J. H. (1975). The ants of Chile (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Revista Chilena de Entomologia, 9: 110-114.

Souza, G. A., Carvalho, M. R. O., Martins, E. R., Guedes, R. N. C. & Oliveira, L. O. (2008). Diversidade genética estimada com marcadores ISSR em populações brasileiras de Zabrotes subfasciatus. Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira, 43: 843-849. DOI:

Stout, J. (1979). An association of an ant, a mealy bug, and an understory tree from a Costa Rican Rain Forest. Biotropica, 11: 309-311. DOI:

Torres, J. A. (1984). Niches and coexistence of ant communities in Puerto Rico: Repeated Patterns. Biotropica, 16: 284-295. DOI:

Wheeler, W. M. (1934). Neotropical ants collected by Dr. Elisabeth Skwarra and others. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 77: 157-240.

Wolfe, A. D. (2005). ISSR techniques for evolutionary biology. Methods in Enzymology, 395: 134-144. DOI:




How to Cite

Nakano, M. A., Miranda, V. F., Feistosa, R. M., & Morini, M. S. (2014). The genetic characterization of Myrmelachista spp. Roger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) specimens collected in the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. Sociobiology, 61(1), 21–27.



Research Article - Ants

Most read articles by the same author(s)