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Bees That Make Near-Perfect Clones of Themselves

Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction in which an egg can grow and develop into an embryo without being fertilized by sperm. This kind of reproduction keeps the gene pool undiluted, and it doesn’t waste both energy and time on mating. There are also disadvantages in parthenogenesis. The first is the loss of genetic diversity, which helps in the survival of a species, especially in changing environments. The second disadvantage is recombination of genetic materials, which can result in birth defects or non-productive eggs.

Researchers have found workers of a species of honeybee in South Africa that produce asexually via parthenogenesis. Even more amazing is the fact that these honeybees seem to have found a way to avoid recombinations, which make their offspring nearly identical to themselves.

More testing showed that one line of worker bees in the hive had been cloning themselves for approximately 30 years—a clear sign that workers in the hive were not suffering from birth defects or an inability to produce viable offspring.


(Image Credit: PollyDot/ Pixabay)

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