International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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“Stranger things” Gynandromorphs and Androgenesis in honey bees Apis mellifera

Author(s):
Sarah Elise Aamidor, Sarah Elise Aamidor , Boris Yagound , Isobel Ronai , Benjamin P Oldroyd
Institution(s):
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia ; School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia
Haplodiploid sex determination occurs in all members of the order Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps).  Under this system, females arise from fertilised (diploid) eggs while males arise from unfertilised (haploid) eggs. The cytogenetic mechanisms underlying haplodiploidy enable peculiar phenomena such as thelytoky (female cloning), androgenesis (male cloning) and gynandromorphs (sex mosaics). We serendipitously sampled 9 gynandromorph honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers from a colony in Richmond NSW and subjected them to microsatellite analysis to determine the parentage of tissues such as wing, eye, tongue, sting, ovary and testis. We morphologically assessed the likely sex of each tissue prior to DNA extraction. For example, males have short tongues and workers long tongues. We found that different tissues had different combinations of at least two parental origins. One individual had at least three fathers. Remarkably, one worker, was phenotypically female throughout, but had no maternal alleles. This bee apparently arose from the fusion of two sperm nuclei (i.e. androgenesis). We also found that some gynandromorphs contained queen-like ovaries which suggest there had been a breakdown in the pathways of caste determination. Overall, our results show that when gynandromorphy occurs, unusual biological phenomena can also arise. These phenomena act as an exaptation for the evolution of some of the more bizarre social systems seen in some ants, such as species where queens and males are produced asexually, and workers sexually.
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