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Multicellular organisms typically develop from a single fertilized egg and therefore consist of clonal cells. We report an extraordinary reproductive system in the yellow crazy ant. Males are chimeras of haploid cells from two divergent lineages: R and W. R cells are overrepresented in the males' somatic tissues, whereas W cells are overrepresented in their sperm. Chimerism occurs when parental nuclei bypass syngamy and divide separately within the same egg. When syngamy takes place, the diploid offspring either develops into a queen when the oocyte is fertilized by an R sperm or into a worker when fertilized by a W sperm. This study reveals a mode of reproduction that may be associated with a conflict between lineages to preferentially enter the germ line.


H Darras, C Berney, S Hasin, J Drescher, H Feldhaar, L Keller. Obligate chimerism in male yellow crazy ants. Science (New York, N.Y.). 2023 Apr 07;380(6640):55-58

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PMID: 37023182

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