The Current State of Ant Genomics

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In case you were wondering about the ant genomes that have been, are currently being, and are proposed be sequenced, Phil Ward and Juergen Gadau have curated a list. I found the database format difficult to navigate, so I’ve distilled the ant roster into a single table:

The completed and in-progress genomes reflect economically important or laboratory model ants. As these tend to be clustered in Myrmicinae, the proposed genomes are a phylogeneticist’s wish list representative of the broader spectrum of ant diversity.

The bullet ant, Paraponera clavata

10 thoughts on “The Current State of Ant Genomics”

  1. Thanks for distilling this into such an easily readable form!

    Of course, I can think of lots of others that would be useful, too, like more Amblyoponinae and Cerapachyinae and several genera of Myrmicinae and Formicinae. But my interest is phylogenetic, not completely “practical”.

    1. That’s precisely the trouble. With data coming so quickly, the recent genomes aren’t assembled with anywhere near the care and attention of earlier ones like Drosophila and Tribolium. Computer algorithms do a rough pass, but anything beyond the automated assembly and gene predictions don’t get done unless the researcher takes an interest in a particular question.

      1. One can only hope that as more and more genomes becomes available for study, that in-between comparisons will yeild usefull results, or that specific genes can be studied among a group of organisms.

        Otherwise it will seems like a real waste of effort to me :/

        I guess you could view genome sequencing as a parallel to organism life history studies, in that they do not always give interesting results in themselves, but makes it possible for others to perform studies with a more hypothesis-centred approach.

        /rant off

      2. What is really needed are comprehensive and detailed analysis of relative chromosomal (and loci) variability for at least ALL nuclear and perhaps mitochondrial DNA for a number of species. We need to know where the changes are occurring, at what frequencies, and some indications of which phenotypes are being controlled by which loci would be real nice as well (I don’t want much – LOL).

        But really, until that sort of data is being generated, DNA analysis is simply shooting in the dark; useful but what does it mean ?

        Genetics is far more complex and we understand much less than is commonly thought. Witness the recent article on genetic effects of blood borne rice RNA and so called epigenetics, which brings to mind Lamarckism revisited.

        http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2011/09/21/what-you-eat-affects-your-genes-rna-from-rice-can-survive-digestion-and-alter-gene-expression/

        1. It’s hard to argue with what you say here, Bob. We do have to start somewhere, though, and having a reference sequence for a single individual is great for developing markers and other tools for later work.

          It is silly how we talk about “The” genome for a species, though.

        2. Agreed. We are just starting.

          Still, I would love to see the results of the needed grunt work from studies of a statistically valid population genetics study on ONE species. Just because molecular sciences are new and shiny does not mean they aren’t as often as not simply descriptive in nature like life histories.

          Do we actually know if within ant population genetic variability is larger or smaller than between species, genera or families, or which chromosomes/segments/loci best differentiate ant evolutionary history ???

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