Researchers discover honeybee gynandromorph with two fathers and no mother

November 28, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers at the University of Sydney has discovered a honeybee gynandromorph with two fathers and no mother—the first ever of its kind observed in nature. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes their study of honeybee gynandromorphs and what they found.

Honeybees are haplodiploid creatures—which means that females develop from fertilized eggs, while males arise from eggs that are not fertilized. Because of this, honeybees are susceptible to producing gynandromorphs, creatures with both male and female tissue. This is different from hermaphrodites, which are one gender but have sex organs of both male and female. In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn more about the nature of gynandromorphs and what causes them.

Prior research has suggested the likelihood that rare mutations result in the creation of gynandromorphs. The mechanics of the process are due to multiple males mating with a queen, resulting in more than a single sperm fertilizing an egg. To learn more about the genetics involved, the researchers captured 11 gynandromorph honeybees, all from a single colony, and studied their genome.

The genetic makeup of the gynandromorphs revealed that five of them had normal ovaries, while three had ovaries that were similar to those of the queen. Also, one of them had normal male sex organs while two had only partial sex organs. The researchers also found that out of the 11 gynandromorphs tested, nine had either two or three fathers. And remarkably, one had two fathers but no mother—a development that could only have occurred through the development of sperm fusion.

The note that gynandromorphs confer no known for a species; thus, their development must be due to mistakes resulting in still unknown . They suggest that the large number of gynandromorphs in a single hive likely means the queen carries the mutation. They note that gynandromorphs have been observed in other species as well, including some crustaceans, other insects and a few . The mutation that causes it in those other has not been found, either.

Explore further: Dual-sex butterfly hatches at Natural History Museum

More information: Sex mosaics in the honeybee: how haplodiploidy makes possible the evolution of novel forms of reproduction in social Hymenoptera, Biology Letters (2018). rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098/rsbl.2018.0670

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mqr
1 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2018
This is a kind of scientific discovery that produces the desire to replicate it, or at least to confirm it. I bet they want you to "trust" their finding. Fortunately science is not based on trust but on verification.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Nov 28, 2018
yes mqr. Lots of work still to be accomplished. The technology to research these issues is still being developed.

It will be even more difficult to achieve a consensus among scientists, on interpreting the still unknown data and reach a general agreement as to the validity of the conclusions.

mqr, what I am curious about? Is how well you would react emotionally, if the results do not meet your expectations?
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2018
This is a kind of scientific discovery that produces the desire to replicate it, or at least to confirm it. I bet they want you to "trust" their finding. Fortunately science is not based on trust but on verification.


Of course they don't; they are scientists and they published asking for criticism (peer review, more research). Where do you get these - as always nasty, never nice - conspiracy theories from?

FWIW they lament that they discovered this only after a main study was finished and they later took out specimens from a freezer:

@OliGriffith
28 nov.
This has interesting ramifications about the presence or importance of genomic imprinting in bees. Imprinting is one of the biggest barriers to single parent offspring in eutherian mammals.

@IsobelRonai
Agree. The only unusual thing about the bee was the mottled colouration - Sarah found a previous reference to this in the literature. It is such a shame we do not still have the colony to study.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2018
So colony location lost, I guess. But as the article said, not unexpected find and good chances to be found again eventually.

The fascinating twitter thread; https://twitter.c...91907841

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