Draft genome of the red harvester ant Pogonomyrmex barbatus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We report the draft genome sequence of the red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus. The genome was sequenced using 454 pyrosequencing, and the current assembly and annotation were completed in less than 1 y. Analyses of conserved gene groups (more than 1,200 manually annotated genes to date) suggest a high-quality assembly and annotation comparable to recently sequenced insect genomes using Sanger sequencing. The red harvester ant is a model for studying reproductive division of labor, phenotypic plasticity, and sociogenomics. Although the genome of P. barbatus is similar to other sequenced hymenopterans (Apis mellifera and Nasonia vitripennis) in GC content and compositional organization, and possesses a complete CpG methylation toolkit, its predicted genomic CpG content differs markedly from the other hymenopterans. Gene networks involved in generating key differences between the queen and worker castes (e.g., wings and ovaries) show signatures of increased methylation and suggest that ants and bees may have independently co-opted the same gene regulatory mechanisms for reproductive division of labor. Gene family expansions (e.g., 344 functional odorant receptors) and pseudogene accumulation in chemoreception and P450 genes compared with A. mellifera and N. vitripennis are consistent with major life-history changes during the adaptive radiation of Pogonomyrmex spp., perhaps in parallel with the development of the North American deserts.


  • Chris R Smith
  • Christopher D Smith
  • Hugh M Robertson
  • Martin Helmkampf
  • Aleksey Zimin
  • Mark Yandell
  • Carson Holt
  • Hao Hu
  • Ehab Abouheif
  • Richard Benton
  • Elizabeth Cash
  • Vincent Croset
  • Cameron R Currie
  • Christine G Elsik
  • Marie-Julie Favé
  • Vilaiwan Fernandes
  • Joshua D Gibson
  • Dan Graur
  • Wulfila Gronenberg
  • Kirk J Grubbs
  • Darren E Hagen
  • Ana Sofia Ibarraran Viniegra
  • Brian R Johnson
  • Reed M Johnson
  • Abderrahman Khila
  • Jay W Kim
  • Kaitlyn A Mathis
  • Monica C Munoz-Torres
  • Marguerite C Murphy
  • Julie A Mustard
  • Rin Nakamura
  • Oliver Niehuis
  • Surabhi Nigam
  • Rick P Overson
  • Jennifer E Placek
  • Rajendhran Rajakumar
  • Justin T Reese
  • Garret Suen
  • Shu Tao
  • Candice W Torres
  • Neil D Tsutsui
  • Lumi Viljakainen
  • Florian Wolschin
  • Jürgen Gadau
External organisations
  • Johns Hopkins University
Research areas and keywords


  • Animals, Ants/genetics, Base Sequence, Desert Climate, Gene Regulatory Networks/genetics, Genome, Insect/genetics, Genomics/methods, Hierarchy, Social, Molecular Sequence Data, North America, Phenotype, Phylogeny, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide/genetics, Receptors, Odorant/genetics, Sequence Analysis, DNA
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5667-5672
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr 5
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes