A South African subspecies of the honeybee is reportedly capable of produce tens of millions of clones of itself. 

Based on new analysis printed within the journal Present Biology and Proceedings of the Royal Society B, one such insect – referred to as the Cape honeybee or Apis mellifera capensis – has managed to take action many instances over the previous 30 years. 


It is a course of referred to as thelytokous parthenogenesis, which a gaggle of worldwide scientists mentioned is akin to the “virgin start of a feminine.” 

Whereas asexual replica is pretty frequent, genetically equivalent offspring shouldn’t be. 

The alternate of genetic materials between completely different organisms, or “recombination,” usually results in the manufacturing of offspring with mixtures of various traits.

If there even is just one mum or dad, New Scientist famous, offspring born from thelytokous parthenogenesis will nonetheless be born with a barely completely different genetic make-up.

And but, the employee Cape honeybee has reportedly discovered a solution to cut back recombination and stay genetically wholesome, whereas asexual replica has been deadly in honeybees earlier than, leading to inbred larvae that do not survive. 

“The 2 feminine castes of the Cape honeybee, Apis mellifera capensis, differ of their mode of replica. Whereas staff at all times reproduce thelytokously, queens at all times mate and reproduce sexually,” the researchers defined within the paper’s summary. “For staff, it is very important cut back the frequency of recombination in order to not produce offspring which are homozygous.”


With the intention to study extra, the paper’s authors “experimentally manipulated” Cape staff and Cape queens to breed thelytokously.

Performing fieldwork at South Africa’s Plant Safety Analysis Institute in Stellenbosch, the group instrumentally inseminated a queen with the semen of a single male after which launched a brood comb holding a number of hundred eggs laid by the queen right into a colony to be reared. 

Queens have been made to breed asexually utilizing what researchers mentioned amounted to a “chastity belt.”

“When the queens have been 5 days publish eclosion we constrained them in a man-made insemination equipment [37] with out narcosis. We then glued a 5 mm piece of surgical tape (Micropore, 3M, Minnesota) over the sting chamber utilizing nail varnish,” the paper defined. 

The researchers monitored the queens, confirming the chastity belts have been intact after every flight across the colony and, finally, in contrast asexually reproduced larvae of the queen to these of the employees.

“We monitored the queens intently for the subsequent two weeks, to find out if and when oviposition had commenced. We collected larvae as quickly as they appeared into ethanol,” the researchers wrote. “Not all queens flew, not all returned from mating flights, and never all laid. Ultimately, we have been capable of harvest one queen and 25 of her larval progeny into ethanol.”

The group additionally genotyped 4 staff and 63 of their larvae.

In the end, the authors discovered that the queen confirmed ranges of genetic recombination 100 instances greater than seen within the cloned offspring of the employee bees.

“Utilizing a mixture of microsatellite genotyping and whole-genome sequencing we discover {that a} discount in recombination is confined to staff solely,” the summary concluded.

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