Draft genome of the globally widespread and invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ants are some of the most abundant and familiar animals on Earth, and they play vital roles in most terrestrial ecosystems. Although all ants are eusocial, and display a variety of complex and fascinating behaviors, few genomic resources exist for them. Here, we report the draft genome sequence of a particularly widespread and well-studied species, the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), which was accomplished using a combination of 454 (Roche) and Illumina sequencing and community-based funding rather than federal grant support. Manual annotation of >1,000 genes from a variety of different gene families and functional classes reveals unique features of the Argentine ant's biology, as well as similarities to Apis mellifera and Nasonia vitripennis. Distinctive features of the Argentine ant genome include remarkable expansions of gustatory (116 genes) and odorant receptors (367 genes), an abundance of cytochrome P450 genes (>110), lineage-specific expansions of yellow/major royal jelly proteins and desaturases, and complete CpG DNA methylation and RNAi toolkits. The Argentine ant genome contains fewer immune genes than Drosophila and Tribolium, which may reflect the prominent role played by behavioral and chemical suppression of pathogens. Analysis of the ratio of observed to expected CpG nucleotides for genes in the reproductive development and apoptosis pathways suggests higher levels of methylation than in the genome overall. The resources provided by this genome sequence will offer an abundance of tools for researchers seeking to illuminate the fascinating biology of this emerging model organism.


  • Christopher D Smith
  • Aleksey Zimin
  • Carson Holt
  • Ehab Abouheif
  • Richard Benton
  • Elizabeth Cash
  • Vincent Croset
  • Cameron R Currie
  • Christine G Elsik
  • Marie-Julie Fave
  • Vilaiwan Fernandes
  • Jürgen Gadau
  • Joshua D Gibson
  • Dan Graur
  • Kirk J Grubbs
  • Darren E Hagen
  • Martin Helmkampf
  • Jo-Anne Holley
  • Hao Hu
  • Ana Sofia Ibarraran Viniegra
  • Brian R Johnson
  • Reed M Johnson
  • Abderrahman Khila
  • Jay W Kim
  • Joseph Laird
  • Kaitlyn A Mathis
  • Joseph A Moeller
  • Monica C Muñoz-Torres
  • Marguerite C Murphy
  • Rin Nakamura
  • Surabhi Nigam
  • Rick P Overson
  • Jennifer E Placek
  • Rajendhran Rajakumar
  • Justin T Reese
  • Hugh M Robertson
  • Chris R Smith
  • Andrew V Suarez
  • Garret Suen
  • Elissa L Suhr
  • Shu Tao
  • Candice W Torres
  • Ellen van Wilgenburg
  • Lumi Viljakainen
  • Kimberly K O Walden
  • Alexander L Wild
  • Mark Yandell
  • James A Yorke
  • Neil D Tsutsui
External organisations
  • Johns Hopkins University
Research areas and keywords


  • Animals, Ants/genetics, Base Sequence, California, DNA Methylation, Gene Library, Genetics, Population, Genome, Insect/genetics, Genomics/methods, Hierarchy, Social, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics, Receptors, Odorant/genetics, Sequence Analysis, DNA
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5673-5678
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr 5
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes