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Reduced worker relatedness does not affect cooperation in honey bee colonies

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Abstract:

Although kin selection is commonly regarded as a major force in the evolution and maintenance of social behaviour in eusocial insects, recent controversy regarding whether honey bee (Apis mellifera L., 1758) workers can discriminate close kin from more distant relatives casts doubt on the extent to which cooperation among individuals within honey bee colonies is controlled by genetic relatedness. We contrasted brood and honey production in colonies where we diluted worker relatedness with those elements of productivity in colonies where relatedness was unmanipulated. Relatedness manipulation did not affect overall brood production, worker or drone brood production, the worker to drone brood sex ratio, or the volume of honey produced. Thus, there is no evidence that honey bees discriminate close from distant relatives or, more importantly, that dilution of the coefficient of relatedness within a colony has any impact on the efficiency of that colony.

La sélection de parentèle est généralement reconnue comme un agent important dans l'évolution et le maintien du comportement social chez les insectes eusociaux. Une controverse récente, à savoir si les ouvrières de l'abeille domestique (Apis mellifera L., 1758) peuvent reconnaître leurs proches parents de parents plus éloignés, laisse planer un doute sur l'importance du contrôle de la coopération entre les individus par le degré de parenté génétique dans les colonies d'abeilles domestiques. Nous avons comparé la production du couvain et du miel dans des colonies où nous avons dilué le degré de parenté des ouvrières aux mêmes éléments de productivité dans des colonies où le degré de parenté n'a pas été modifié. La manipulation du degré de parenté n'affecte pas la production globale du couvain, ni la production d'ouvrières et de faux-bourdons, ni le rapport des sexes des ouvrières sur les faux-bourdons, ni le volume de miel produit. Il n'y a donc aucune indication que les abeilles domestiques peuvent reconnaître les parents proches des parents éloignés, ni que la dilution du coefficient de parenté dans une colonie a un impact sur l'efficacité de cette colonie.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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