Genome size in ants: retrospect and prospect

Retrospect and Prospect


  • Mariana Neves Moura Programa de Pós- Graduação em Ecologia, , Universidade Federal de Viçosa, CEP: 36.570–000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Danon Clemes Cardoso Departamento de Biodiversidade, Evolução e Meio Ambiente, Universidade Federal Ouro Preiato – UFOP, CEP: 35.400–000, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Brenda Carla Lima Baldez Programa de Pós- Graduação em Ecologia de Biomas Tropicais, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, CEP: 35.400–000, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Maykon Passos Cristiano Departamento de Biodiversidade, Evolução e Meio Ambiente, Universidade Federal Ouro Preiato – UFOP, CEP: 35.400–000, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil



C-value, DNA content, Genetic diversity, Genome, Evolution, Phylogeny


Genome size is very useful in studies regarding taxonomy, evolution, and reproductive biology in many animal groups, including insects. Herein, we assembled the information about genome size in ants, compiling the DNA content estimated so far, in order to evaluate the methods, the tissues and the internal standard applied to estimate the genomes size. All values were placed in a phylogenetic tree to put it in an evolutionary context and the means of the subfamilies were further compared statistically to investigate changes and trends in the variation across taxa. The compiled data resulted in 86 specimens of ants, comprising 69 different species. This number represents 0.52% of the total number of 13,369 ant species described, covering only 40 from 333 valid extant genera. The average Formicidae genome size was 0.36 pg (± 0.13). Most of the estimates were obtained through flow cytometry (83.5%), commonly using brain tissues, with Drosophila melanogaster as internal standard (76%). Differences in DNA content of ant species may be related to differences in the amount of heterochromatin and is not related with chromosome number. The evaluation of the genome size estimations currently available for ants has highlighted their scarcity. Such information would be valuable as independent data for the study of ant diversity and evolutionary biology. Further, we conclude that the standardization of the techniques used and a large–scale study on ant genome size are urgently required, given the importance of this insect group and the needs for the improvement in our knowledge on ant genome.


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How to Cite

Moura, M. N., Cardoso, D. C., Baldez, B. C. L., & Cristiano, M. P. (2019). Genome size in ants: retrospect and prospect: Retrospect and Prospect. Caryologia, 72(4), 29–39.