Proposal Guidelines


Max 100 spaces

Inquiline social parasites of ants: Convergent phenotypes through convergent genomes?


Names, address affiliations, emails



Max 100 words, explaining the typical characteristics of the ant focal ant lineage and why/how comparative genomics in this lineage is interesting/important and has potential to change the way we understand their biology.

Host-parasite systems of inquiline social parasites in ants offer a unique framework to study the convergent evolution of adaptive phenotypes. Even though most known inquiline species are only distantly related to one another, their life history, behavior, and morphology can be surprisingly similar and often, different parasite species resemble each other more than they resemble their respective closely related hosts.

Number of species to be sequenced and their names

Closest outgroup(s) to be included – genome(s) already available or to be included in the project.

Heavily depends on sample availability! Basically, any inquiline social parasite species is of interest.

Camponotus universitatis
Camponotus aethiops

Cataglyphis hannae
Cataglyphis abyssinicus

Ectatomma parasiticum
Ectatomma tuberculatum

Formica talbotae
Formica obscuripes

Mycocepurus castrator
Mycocepurus goeldii

Myrmica microrubra
Myrmica rubra

Pheidole inquilina
Pheidole pilifera
(“subspecies coloradensis”)

Pogonomyrmex anergismus
Pogonomyrmex barbatus
(genome already sequenced)

Pseudomyrmex inquilinus
Pseudomyrmex subater

Tetramorium atratulum (“Anergates atratulus”)
Tetramorium caespitum

Vollenhovia nipponica
Vollenhovia emeryi
(genome already sequenced)

Scientific objectives

Max 100 words, explaining what overarching questions your grant will focus on the coming x years and what methods to be applied.

In this 4-year GAGA sub-project, we intend to uncover convergent adaptive changes in inquiline social parasites, by comparing genomes of host and parasite species pairs from across the entire phylogeny of ants. Evolutionary theory predicts that genomes of social parasites should show signatures of relaxed selection on obsolete traits but also positive selection on other phenotypic traits that were required to adapt to a parasitic life style. By identifying these signatures, we will be able to infer the evolutionary history of inquilines and understand which traits are particularly important to switch from a eusociality to parasitism.

Possible further expansions

Max 100 words, explaining whether you would welcome additional collaborators if they would be able to contribute specific annotation or comparative skills.

We welcome contributions from additional collaborators, particularly for the acquisition of the extremely rare samples of inquiline social parasite species. People interested in the comparative analysis of traits under relaxed selection, either from a morphological or genomic perspective, are welcome to contact us. In general, we invite collaborators interested in comparative morphological work on inquiline social parasites.