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Deep-Time Convergence in Rove Beetle Symbionts of Army Ants

Maruyama, Munetoshi and Parker, Joseph (2017) Deep-Time Convergence in Rove Beetle Symbionts of Army Ants. Current Biology, 27 (6). pp. 920-926. ISSN 0960-9822.

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Recent adaptive radiations provide striking examples of convergence [1–4], but the predictability of evolution over much deeper timescales is controversial, with a scarcity of ancient clades exhibiting repetitive patterns of phenotypic evolution [5, 6]. Army ants are ecologically dominant arthropod predators of the world’s tropics, with large nomadic colonies housing diverse communities of socially parasitic myrmecophiles [7]. Remarkable among these are many species of rove beetle (Staphylinidae) that exhibit ant-mimicking “myrmecoid” body forms and are behaviorally accepted into their aggressive hosts’ societies: emigrating with colonies and inhabiting temporary nest bivouacs, grooming and feeding with workers, but also consuming the brood [8–11]. Here, we demonstrate that myrmecoid rove beetles are strongly polyphyletic, with this adaptive morphological and behavioral syndrome having evolved at least 12 times during the evolution of a single staphylinid subfamily, Aleocharinae. Each independent myrmecoid clade is restricted to one zoogeographic region and highly host specific on a single army ant genus. Dating estimates reveal that myrmecoid clades are separated by substantial phylogenetic distances—as much as 105 million years. All such groups arose in parallel during the Cenozoic, when army ants diversified into modern genera [12] and rose to ecological dominance [13, 14]. This work uncovers a rare example of an ancient system of complex morphological and behavioral convergence, with replicate beetle lineages following a predictable phenotypic trajectory during their parasitic adaptation to host colonies.

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Additional Information:© 2017 Elsevier. Received 19 December 2016, Revised 29 January 2017, Accepted 13 February 2017, Available online 9 March 2017. We are grateful to numerous people for assistance with fieldwork for specimen collecting, in particular, Ian Butler, Taro Eldredge, Stefan Harrison, Rosli Hashim, Takao Itioka, Takashi Komatsu, Takashi Matsumoto, Watana Sakchoowong, Hasin Sasitorn, Taku Shimada, and Christoph von Beeren. We greatly appreciate the guidance of Remco Bouckaert, BEAST2 engineer at the University of Auckland, who helped with the molecular dating analysis. Rory Coleman (Columbia University), Taro Eldredge (University of Kansas), Terry Ord (University of New South Wales), and Christoph von Beeren (TU Darmstadt) provided important feedback on this paper. This work was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientist B (22770085) to M.M. J.P. was funded by a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (Wellcome Trust, UK) and by grants from the NIH (RO1 GM113000) and the Ellison Medical Foundation to Gary Struhl, whose lab provided a fantastic setting to pursue this project. Author Contributions: J.P. conceived and designed the project together with M.M. M.M. collected specimens with help from J.P. M.M. and J.P. sequenced specimens. M.M. photographed specimens and produced illustrations. J.P. performed analyses, made figures, and wrote the paper with input from M.M. Accession Numbers: See Data S1 for a full list of NCBI accession numbers used in this study.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)22770085
NIHRO1 GM113000
Ellison Medical FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:convergent evolution; Staphylinidae; army ants; symbiosis; social parasitism; myrmecophily
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180112-141851108
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Official Citation:Munetoshi Maruyama, Joseph Parker, Deep-Time Convergence in Rove Beetle Symbionts of Army Ants, Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 6, 2017, Pages 920-926, ISSN 0960-9822, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84316
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Jan 2018 16:15
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 19:17

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