Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Inbred Bumblebees Less Successful Due To 'Inefficient' Males

Date:
July 26, 2009
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
Declining bumblebee populations are at greater risk of inbreeding, which can trigger a downward spiral of further decline. Researchers have provided the first proof that inbreeding reduces colony fitness under natural conditions by increasing the production of reproductively inefficient 'diploid' males.

Two bumblebees. Declining bumblebee populations are at greater risk of inbreeding, which can trigger a downward spiral of further decline.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nathan McClunie

Declining bumblebee populations are at greater risk of inbreeding, which can trigger a downward spiral of further decline. Researchers have provided the first proof that inbreeding reduces colony fitness under natural conditions by increasing the production of reproductively inefficient ‘diploid’ males.

The sex of bumblebees is normally determined by the number of chromosome sets an individual receives. Males, born from unfertilised eggs, are haploid (just one chromosome set), while females receive genetic material from a father and a mother and so are diploid (two sets of chromosomes). In situations of inbreeding, however, the likelihood of generating a ‘freak’ diploid male is increased.

Penelope Whitehorn, from the University of Stirling, UK, led a team of researchers who sought to investigate the effects of a generation of these diploid males on the fitness of bumblebee colonies. She said, “The study of genetic diversity and inbreeding in bumblebees is currently of particular importance as many species have been suffering from significant population declines. The intensification of agriculture and the associated loss of flower-rich meadows and other habitats on which bumblebees depend has led to isolation of groups of bees and a consequent loss of their genetic diversity, increasing their susceptibility to possible deleterious effects of inbreeding”.

The researchers mated fertile female bees in the laboratory with either their brothers or with unrelated males. Those queens that established colonies in the laboratory could be divided into three groups – inbred queens producing diploid males, inbred queens producing normal colonies without diploid males and a control, non-inbred group. After monitoring the initial founding of the colonies in the laboratory, the researchers then compared the development and survival of these three colony groups under natural field conditions. According to Whitehorn, “A number of fitness parameters were severely negatively affected by diploid male production, including colony growth rate, total offspring production and colony survival. However, no significant effects of inbreeding in the absence of diploid male production were detected”.

This study demonstrates that diploid males are extremely detrimental for wild bumblebee colonies. Diploid males are produced at the expense of industrious females, but unlike these female workers, they do not contribute to colony growth and productivity. In fact, they do not function very well as males either, as they are much less fertile than normal males and any offspring they do produce are always unviable or infertile. The researchers conclude that diploid males may act as indicators of the genetic health of populations, and that their detection could be used as an informative tool in bee conservation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Penelope R Whitehorn, Matthew C Tinsley, Mark JF Brown, Ben Darvill and Dave Goulson. Impacts of inbreeding on bumblebee colony fitness under field conditions. BMC Evolutionary Biology, (in press)

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "Inbred Bumblebees Less Successful Due To 'Inefficient' Males." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090701190414.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2009, July 26). Inbred Bumblebees Less Successful Due To 'Inefficient' Males. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090701190414.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "Inbred Bumblebees Less Successful Due To 'Inefficient' Males." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090701190414.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins