Formação das castas no gênero Melípona (Illiger, 1806)


  • Warwick E. Kerr Universidade de São Paulo; Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz; Seção de Genética



The present work is destinated to prove that the castes : workers and queens, in Melipona bees are due to genetic factors and not to differences in food. 2) Material used: Hives of Melipona quadri-fasciata anthidioides (Lep. 1836), M. schenki schenki (Gribodo, 1893), M. fasciata rufiventris (Lep. 1836), M. quadri-fasciata vicina (Lep. 1836), M. marginata marginata (Lep. 1836), Apis mellifera (L. 1758). 3) It should be pointed out that in Melipona bees there are no royal cells for the queens, but all the cells are of the same size independently of being destinated for workers, queens or drones. The numerous queens which are born are killed soon after emerging from their cells. 4) Changes of feeding in quality and in quantity caused no variation of castes. The only variable factor is the size, which becomes bigger when the bee is well nourished. 5) The offsprings of 5 hives were examined : 3 of M. quadri-fasciata anthidioides (n.o 1, n.o 2 and n.o 3), 1 of M. quadri-fasciata vicina (n.o 4) and 1 of M. marginata marginata (n.o 5). Combs of about 40 cells were taken into laboratory and the type of bee registered immediately after emerging. The results of the counts were: BOX COMB WORKER QUEEN PERCENTAGE Σ X2 to 12,5% Nº 1 1th 69 8 10,4% 0, 3139 " 1 2nd 144 18 11,1% 0, 2856 " 2 1th 52 8 13,3% 0, 0384 " 3 1th 45 10 18,2% 1, 6736 " 4 1th 56 4 6,7% 1, 8686 " 4 2nd 29 4 12,1% 0,00432 Σ X2 to 25% " 5 1th 34 14 29,2% 0,44444 "5 2nd 83 27 24,5% 0, 0121 In the 4 first boxes there is a percentage of 11,63% queens and in the last there is a percentage of 25,95%. 6) These percentages are very near two genetical ratios: 12,5% or 7:1, and 25% or 3:1, which correspond to a trifactorial and a bifactorial back-cross. Carrying out a X² test no significant deviations were found ( X² to 12,5% and to 25% and table 1 to 4). 7) We suppose that the formula for the queen in the first case (11,65%) is: AaBbCc. Since the Melipona bees are arrhenotokous hymenopteres, the drones are haploid and may have any one of the following eight formulas, corresponding to the gonic segregation of the queem : ABC, ABc, Abc, Abc, AbC, aBC, aBc, abC, abc. Anyone combination of these males with the queen will give a segregation of 7 workers to 1 queen, since there is always only one triple heterozygote among the eight possible segregates (table 5). 8) In order to explain the second case, it is suffient to assume that in this species there are only two pairs of factors, the queen being the double heterozygote : AaBb, while the drones may have any one of the following constitutions: AB, Ab, aB and ab. Workers are again all diploids which are homozygous for one or both factors, for instance: AABB, AABb, AaBB, aaBb, AAbb, etc. (table 6). 9) It is suggested that the genus Melipona is an intermediary type between the solitary bees, where all females are fertile independently of their feeding, and the genera Apis and Trigona, where without special feeding all females are born sterile, while only specially fed females develop into fertile queens. 10) No speculations are put forward with regards to the evolutionary mechanism which may have been responsible for the development of the genetical determination of castes in Melipona, since it seems advisable point to extend the studies to other insects with complicated caste systems.


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Como Citar

Kerr, W. E. (1946). Formação das castas no gênero Melípona (Illiger, 1806) . Anais Da Escola Superior De Agricultura Luiz De Queiroz, 3, 288-312.



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