The evolutionary history of fungus-farming ants has been the subject of multiple morphological, molecular phylogenetic, and phylogenomic studies. Due to its rarity, however, the phylogenetic position, natural history, and fungal associations of the monotypic genus Paramycetophylax Kusnezov have remained enigmatic. Here we report the first excavations of colonies of Paramycetophylax bruchi (Santschi) and describe its nest architecture and natural history. Utilizing specimens from these collections, we generated ultraconservedelement (UCE) data to determine the evolutionary position of Paramycetophylax within the fungus-farming ants and ribosomal ‘fungal barcoding’ ITS sequence data to identify the fungal cultivar. A maximum-likelihood phylogenomic analysis indicates that the genus Paramycetophylax is the sister group of the yeast-cultivating Cyphomyrmex rimosus group, an unexpected result that renders the genus Cyphomyrmex Mayr paraphyletic. A Bayesian divergence-dating analysis indicates that Paramycetophylax diverged from its sister group around 36 mya (30–42 mya, HPD) in the late Eocene-early Oligocene, a period of global cooling, expansion of grasslands, and large-scale extinction of tropical organisms. Bayesian analysis of the fungal cultivar ITS gene fragment indicates that P. bruchi practices lower agriculture and that the cultivar grown by P. bruchi belongs to the Clade 1 group of lower-attine fungi, a clade that, interestingly, also includes the C. rimosus-group yeast cultivars. Based on these results, we conclude that a better understanding of P. bruchi and its fungal cultivar, including whole-genome data, is critical for reconstructing the origin of yeast agriculture, a major transition in the evolution of fungus-farming ants.

The genus Cryptopone Emery contains 25 species of litter and soil ants, 5 of which occur in the Americas. Cryptopone gilva (Roger) occurs in the southeastern United States and cloud forests of Mesoamerica, exhibiting an uncommon biogeographic disjunction observed most often in plants. We used phylogenomic data from ultraconserved elements (UCEs), as well as mitogenomes and legacy markers, to investigate phylogenetic relationships, species boundaries, and divergence dates among New World Cryptopone. Species delimitation was conducted using a standard approach and then tested using model-based molecular methods (SNAPP, BPP, SODA, and bPTP). We found that Cryptopone as currently constituted is polyphyletic, and that all the South American species belong to Wadeura Weber, a separate genus unrelated to Cryptopone. A single clade of true Cryptopone occurs in the Americas, restricted to North and Central America. This clade is composed of four species that originated ~4.2 million years ago. One species from the mountains of Guatemala is sister to the other three, favoring a vicariance hypothesis of diversification. The taxonomy of the New World Cryptopone and Wadeura is revised. Taxonomic changes are as follows: Wadeura Weber is resurrected, with new combinations W. guianensis Weber, W. holmgreni (Wheeler), and W. pauli (Fernandes & Delabie); C. guatemalensis (Forel) (rev. stat.) is raised to species and includes C. obsoleta (Menozzi) (syn. nov.). The following new species are described: Cryptopone gilvagrande, C. gilvatumida, and Wadeura holmgrenita. Cryptopone hartwigi Arnold is transferred to Fisheropone Schmidt and Shattuck (n. comb.). Cryptopone mirabilis (Mackay & Mackay 2010) is a junior synonym of Centromyrmex brachycola (Roger) (syn. nov.).

Uncovering the evolutionary history of the subfamilies Ectatomminae and Heteroponerinae, or ectaheteromorphs, is key to understanding a major branch of the ant tree of life. Despite their diversity and ecological importance, phylogenetic relationships in the group have not been well explored. One particularly suitable tool for resolving phylogeny is the use of ultraconserved elements (UCEs), which have been shown to be ideal markers at a variety of evolutionary time scales. In the present study, we enriched and sequenced 2,127 UCEs from 135 specimens of ectaheteromorph ants and investigated phylogeny using a variety of model-based phylogenomic methods.Trees recovered from partitioned maximum-likelihood and species-tree analyses were well resolved and largely congruent.The results are consistent with an expanded concept of Ectatomminae that now includes the subfamily Heteroponerinae new synonym and its single tribe Heteroponerini new combination. Eleven monophyletic groups are recognized as genera: Acanthoponera, Alfaria status revived, Boltonia Camacho and Feitosa new genus, Ectatomma, Gnamptogenys, Heteroponera, Holcoponera status revived, Poneracantha status revived, Rhytidoponera, Stictoponera status revived, and Typhlomyrmex. The new phylogenetic framework and classification proposed here will shed light on the study of Ectatomminae taxonomy and systematics, as well as on the morphological evolution of the groups that it comprises.

The majority of released rye cultivars are susceptible to leaf rust because of a low level of resistance in the predominant hybrid rye-breeding gene pools Petkus and Carsten. To discover new sources of leaf rust resistance, we phenotyped a diverse panel of inbred lines from the less prevalent Gülzow germplasm using six distinct isolates of Puccinia recondita f. sp. secalis and found that 55 out of 92 lines were resistant to all isolates. By performing a genome-wide association study using 261,406 informative SNP markers, we identified five resistance-associated QTLs on chromosome arms 1RS, 1RL, 2RL, 5RL and 7RS. To identify candidate Puccinia recondita (Pr) resistance genes in these QTLs, we sequenced the rye nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) intracellular immune receptor complement using a Triticeae NLR bait-library and PacBio® long-read single-molecule high-fidelity (HiFi) sequencing. Trait-genotype correlations across 10 resistant and 10 susceptible lines identified four candidate NLR-encoding Pr genes. One of these physically co-localized with molecular markers delimiting Pr3 on chromosome arm 1RS and the top-most resistance-associated QTL in the panel.