'Social' Chromosome Discovered in the Red Fire Ant

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'Social' Chromosome Discovered in the Red Fire Ant

The red fire ants live in two different types of colonies: some colonies strictly have a single queen while other colonies contain hundreds of queens.
Publishing in the journal Nature on January 16, scientists have discovered that this difference in social organisation is determined by a chromosome that carries one of two variants of a 'supergene' containing more than 600 genes.
The two variants, B and b, differ in structure but have evolved similarly to the X and Y chromosomes that determine the sex of humans. If the worker fire ants in a colony carry exclusively the B variant, they will accept a single BB queen, but a colony that includes worker fire ants with the b variant will accept multiple Bb queens. The scientists analysed the genomes of more than 500 red fire ants to understand this phenomenon.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130116131403.htm

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