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Scientists work out how bees reproduce with out having intercourse

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Honey bees are able to reproduce asexually (Getty)

Honey bees are in a position to reproduce asexually (Getty)

The ‘virgin’ gene that permits a species of honeybee to breed with out intercourse has been found, scientists consider.

For a whole bunch of years it has been identified that exact honey bees can reproduce asexually, however now researchers have found a gene within the Cape honeybee in South Africa that causes these virgin births.

They consider the invention this might have large implications for farming and agriculture.

Within the Cape honey bee the gene has allowed employee bees to put eggs that solely produce females as a substitute of the conventional males that different honey bees do.

However this methodology of reproducing additionally causes issues because it results in rivalries over who would be the subsequent queen of the colony.

Professor Benjamin Oldroyd within the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences from College of Sydney, mentioned: ‘This can be very thrilling. Scientists have been in search of this gene for the final 30 years. Now that we all know it’s on chromosome 11, now we have solved a thriller.’

The flexibility to supply daughters asexually, often known as ‘thelytokous parthenogenesis’, is restricted to a single subspecies inhabiting the Cape area of South Africa, the Cape honey bee or Apis mellifera capensis.

A number of different traits distinguish the Cape honey bee from different honey bee subspecies.

Particularly, the ovaries of employee bees are bigger and extra readily activated and they can produce queen pheromones, permitting them to say reproductive dominance in a colony.

These traits additionally result in a propensity for social parasitism, a behaviour the place Cape bee employees invade overseas colonies, reproduce and persuade the host colony employees to feed their larvae.

Asexuality is a more efficient way to reproduce, suggest experts (Getty)

Asexuality is a extra environment friendly strategy to reproduce, recommend specialists (Getty)

Professor Oldroyd added: ‘Intercourse is a bizarre strategy to reproduce and but it’s the commonest type of copy for animals and crops on the planet.

‘It’s a significant organic thriller why there’s a lot intercourse happening and it doesn’t make evolutionary sense. Asexuality is a way more environment friendly strategy to reproduce, and once in a while we see a species revert to it.’

Yearly in South Africa, 10,000 colonies of economic beehives die due to the social parasite behaviour in Cape honey bees.

Professor Oldroyd mentioned: ‘Males are principally ineffective. However Cape employees can change into genetically reincarnated as a feminine queen and that prospect modifications the whole lot.

‘As a substitute of being a cooperative society, Cape honey bee colonies are riven with battle as a result of any employee might be genetically reincarnated as the subsequent queen.

‘When a colony loses its queen the employees combat and compete to be the mom of the subsequent queen.’

The existence of Cape bees with these characters has been identified for over 100 years, however it’s only just lately, utilizing trendy genomic instruments, that now we have been in a position to perceive the precise gene that provides rise to virgin start.

Professor Oldroyd mentioned: ‘Additional research of Cape bees might give us perception into two main evolutionary transitions: the origin of intercourse and the origin of animal societies.’

Maybe essentially the most thrilling prospect arising from this research is the chance to grasp how the gene really works, researchers mentioned.

Professor Oldroyd added: ‘If we might management a swap that permits animals to breed asexually, that may have essential functions in agriculture, biotechnology and lots of different fields.

‘For example, many pest ant species like fireplace ants are thelytokous, although sadly it appears to be a special gene to the one present in Capensis.’

The research was revealed on Thursday in Present Biology.

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