Life-history evolution in ants: the case of Cardiocondyla.
- Jürgen Heinze
- Proceedings. Biological sciences
Selenoproteins (containing the 21st proteinogenic amino acid selenocysteine) play important roles throughout all domains of life. Surprisingly, a number of taxa have small selenoproteomes, and Hymenopteran insects appear to have fully lost selenoproteins. Nevertheless, their genomes contain genes for several proteins of the selenocysteine insertion machinery, including selenophosphate synthetase 1 (SELD/SPS1). At present, it is unknown whether this enzyme has a selenoprotein-independent function, and whether the gene is actually translated into a protein in Hymenoptera. Here, we report that SELD/SPS1 is present as a protein in the accessory glands of males of the ant Cardiocondyla obscurior. It appears to be more abundant in the glands of winged disperser males than in those of wingless, local fighter males. Mating increases the lifespan and fecundity of queens in C. obscurior, and mating with winged males has a stronger effect on queen fitness than mating with a wingless male. SELD/SPS 1 has been suggested to play an important role in oxidative stress defense, and might therefore be involved in the life-prolonging effect of mating.