Sunday, December 3, 2023

Honeybee workers make near-perfect clones of themselves

Researchers have observed that workers in a species of honeybee found in South Africa reproduce by making near-perfect clones of themselves, reports. A team from the University of Sydney, the ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, and York University found that South African Cape honeybee queens reproduce sexually, but the workers reproduce asexually. They affixed tape to the reproductive organs of a queen, preventing males from mating with her, then allowed both her and the worker bees in the same hive to reproduce asexually. They found that offspring of the queen had approximately 100 times as much genetic recombination as the worker bees. The offspring of the worker bees were found to be nearly identical clones of their parents. More testing showed that one line of worker bees in the hive had been cloning themselves for approximately 30 years—a sign that workers in the hive were not suffering from birth defects or an inability to produce viable offspring. It also showed that they have evolved a means for preventing recombination when they reproduce.

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