Survival of a colony depends on the queen bee, which must leave the colony to find drones, but she does not know for certain that she will encounter any, which is one reason why the Cape honey bee raises female laying workers and virgin queens from unfertilised eggs (known as thelytoky). Reproduction in the honey bee Apis mellifera worker leads to fertilised males with a single set of unpaired chromosomes; however, the South African Cape honey bee Apis mellifera capensis workers are able to rear female offspring (workers and virgin queens) from unfertilised eggs, due to an abnormal spindle rotation during cell division. Chapman et al. (2015) recently challenged the assumption that a recessive allele at the thelytoky locus (th) genetically controls this characteristic.
This article describes the mode of inheritance for reproduction without fertilisation in Cape honey bees. The investigators determined the sex of the offspring of 74 A. m. capensis workers of a single queen from a colony of the endemic wild population at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, South Africa. Findings show that reproduction without fertilisation is dimorphic (i.e. different forms within the species exist), which supports the single locus model. The investigators were also able to exclude maternal or paternal effects determining this mode of reproduction. They also re-analysed the data of Chapman et al. (2015), which revealed that their data support the one locus model for the inheritance of the characteristic to produce females from unfertilised eggs.
This is an output of the ‘African Reference Laboratory (with Satellite Stations) for the Management of Pollinator Bee Diseases and Pests for Food Security’ project. It is partly funded by the UK Department for International Development, a core donor of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology.
Aumer D., Allsopp M.H., Lattorff H.M.G., Moritz R.F.A. and Jarosch-Perlow A. (2017) Thelytoky in Cape honeybees (Apis mellifera capensis) is controlled by a single recessive locus. Apidologie 48, 401–410. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-016-0484-0
Thelytoky in Cape honeybees (Apis mellifera capensis) is controlled by a single recessive locus
Published 28 February 2017