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Entomology: Personnel

Entomology Faculty

Kenneth G. Ross

Professor of Entomology
Athens Campus
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1982

Contact Information

Address: Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
413 Biological Sciences Building
Athens, GA 30602-2603

Phone: (706) 542-7699
Email: kenross@uga.edu

Dr. Kenneth Ross


My research interests lie in the areas of population biology, molecular evolutionary genetics, molecular systematics, and comparative genomics, particularly as they pertain to the evolution of social insects. I use gene marker genotypic data and genomic sequences to study the distribution of genetic variation at various levels in social insect populations, for instance, among genomic regions within individuals, among individuals within colonies, among colonies, among geographic populations, and among species. These data, combined with relevant behavioral and ecological information, are then used to infer properties of the breeding biology, patterns of gene flow, and evidence of selection operating at differing scales in the study species. The ultimate objective of this work is to reconstruct patterns of evolution in wild populations and to identify the selective or other evolutionary mechanisms mediating the spread of specific social traits or promoting species diversification. I have studied various social insect species including yellowjacket wasps, tent caterpillars, and fire ants. Most of my recent work focuses on fire ants (genus Solenopsis), a group that presents many fascinating problems in population and evolutionary genetics, is readily studied in the field and laboratory, and is of great economic significance.

Recent Publications
Shoemaker, D. D., C. J. DeHeer, M. J. B. Krieger, and K. G. Ross.  2006.  Population genetics of the invasive fire ant Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the United States.  Annals of the Entomological Society of America 99: 1213-1233. PDF file

Giron, D., K. G. Ross, and M. R. Strand.  2007.  Presence of soldier larvae determines the outcome of competition in a polyembryonic wasp.  Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20: 165-172. PDF file

Gotzek, D. and K. G. Ross.  2007.  Genetic regulation of colony social organization in fire ants: an integrative overview.  Quarterly Review of Biology 82: 201-226. PDF file

Ross, K. G., M. J. B. Krieger, L. Keller, and D. D. Shoemaker.  2007.  Genetic variation and structure in native populations of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta: evolutionary and demographic implications.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 92: 541-560. PDF file

Gotzek, D., D. D. Shoemaker, and K. G. Ross.  2007.  Molecular variation at a candidate gene implicated in the regulation of fire ant social behavior.  PLoS ONE  2: e1088. PDF file

Caldera, E. J., K. G. Ross, C. J. DeHeer, and D. D. Shoemaker.  2008.  Putative native source of the invasive fire ant Solenopsis invicta in the U.S.A.  Biological Invasions  10.1007/s10530-008-9219-0. PDF file

Wang, J., K. G. Ross, and L. Keller.  2008.  Genome-wide expression patterns and the genetic architecture of a fundamental social trait.  PLoS Genetics  4(7): e1000127. PDF file

Gotzek, D. and K. G. Ross.  2008.  Experimental conversion of colony social organization in fire ants (Solenopsis invicta): worker genotype manipulation in the absence of queen effects.  Journal of Insect Behavior 21: 337-350.  PDF file

Ross, K. G. and D. D. Shoemaker.  2008.  Estimation of the number of founders of an invasive pest insect population: the fire ant Solenopsis invicta in the United States.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 275: 2231-2240. PDF file

Gotzek, D. and K. G. Ross.  2009.  Current status of a model system: the gene Gp-9 and its association with social organization in fire ants.  PLoS ONE  4: e7713. PDF file

Ross, K. G., D. Gotzek, M. S. Ascunce, and D. D. Shoemaker.  2010.  Species delimitation: a case study in a problematic ant taxon.  Systematic Biology 59: 162-184. PDF file

Ometto, L., D. D. Shoemaker, K. G. Ross, and L. Keller. 2011. Evolution of gene expression in fire ants: The effects of developmental stage, caste, and species. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28:1381-1392. PDF file

Ascunce, M. S., C. C. Yang, , J. Oakey, L. Calcaterra, W. J. Wu, C. J. Shih, J. Goudet, K. G. Ross, and D. D. Shoemaker. 2011. Global invasion history of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Science 331:1066-1068. PDF file  

Select Earlier Publications

Ross, K. G.  1986.  Kin selection and the problem of sperm utilization in social insects.  Nature 323: 798-802. PDF file

Ross, K. G. and R. W. Matthews.  1989.  Population genetic structure and social evolution in the eusocial sphecid wasp Microstigmus comes.  American Naturalist 134: 574-598. PDF file

Ross, K. G.  1992.  Strong selection on a gene that influences reproductive competition in a social insect.  Nature 355: 347-349. PDF file

Ross, K. G.  1993.  The breeding system of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta: effects on colony genetic structure.  American Naturalist 141: 554-576. PDF file

Costa, J. T. and K. G. Ross.  1994.  Hierarchical genetic structure and gene flow in macrogeographic populations of the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum).  Evolution  48: 1158-1167. PDF file

Ross, K. G. and L. Keller.  1995.  Ecology and evolution of social organization: insights from fire ants and other highly eusocial insects.  Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 26: 631-656. PDF file

Ross, K. G., E. L. Vargo, and L. Keller.  1996.  Social evolution in a new environment: the case of introduced fire ants.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 93: 3021-3025. PDF file

Shoemaker, D. D. and K. G. Ross.  1996.  Effects of social organization on gene flow in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta.  Nature 383: 613-616. PDF file

Ross, K. G.  1997.  Multilocus evolution in fire ants: effects of selection, gene flow, and recombination.  Genetics 145: 961-974. PDF file

Keller, L. and K. G. Ross.  1998.  Selfish genes: a green beard in the red fire ant.  Nature 394: 573-575. PDF file

Ross, K. G. and L. Keller.  1998.  Genetic control of social organization in an ant.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 95: 14232-14237. PDF file

DeHeer, C. J., M. A. D. Goodisman, and K. G. Ross.  1999.  Queen dispersal strategies in the multiple-queen form of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. American Naturalist 153: 660-675. PDF file

Ross, K. G. 2001. Molecular ecology of social behaviour: analyses of breeding systems and genetic structure. Molecular Ecology 10: 265-284. PDF file

Ross, K. G. and L. Keller. 2002. Experimental conversion of colony social organization by manipulation of worker genotype composition in fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 51: 287-295. PDF file

Krieger, M. J. B. and K. G. Ross. 2002. Identification of a major gene regulating complex social behavior. Science 295: 328-332. PDF file

Ross, K. G., M. J. B. Krieger, and D. D. Shoemaker. 2003. Alternative genetic foundations for a key social polymorphism in fire ants. Genetics 165: 1853-1867. PDF file

Costa, J. T. and K. G. Ross. 2003. Fitness effects of group merging in a social insect. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 270: 1697-1702. PDF file

Ometto, L., K. G. Ross, D. D. Shoemaker, and L. Keller. 2012. Disruption of gene expression in hybrids of the fire ants Solenopsis invicta and S. richteri. Molecular Ecology 21:2488-2501. PDF file

Fisher, M. A., D. D. Shoemaker, and K. G. Ross. 2014. Heterozygosity-fitness associations in an invasive population of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Evolution (in press).

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