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Genetics and Molecular Biology

Print version ISSN 1415-4757


REIS, Evelyze Pinheiro dos; CAMPOS, Lucio Antonio de Oliveira  and  TAVARES, Mara Garcia. Prediction of social structure and genetic relatedness in colonies of the facultative polygynous stingless bee Melipona bicolor (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Genet. Mol. Biol. [online]. 2011, vol.34, n.2, pp.338-344.  Epub Apr 01, 2011. ISSN 1415-4757.

Stingless bee colonies typically consist of one single-mated mother queen and her worker offspring. The stingless bee Melipona bicolor (Hymenoptera: Apidae) shows facultative polygyny, which makes this species particularly suitable for testing theoretical expectations concerning social behavior. In this study, we investigated the social structure and genetic relatedness among workers from eight natural and six manipulated colonies of M. bicolor over a period of one year. The populations of M. bicolor contained monogynous and polygynous colonies. The estimated genetic relatedness among workers from monogynous and polygynous colonies was 0.75 ± 0.12 and 0.53 ± 0.16 (mean ± SEM), respectively. Although the parental genotypes had significant effects on genetic relatedness in monogynous and polygynous colonies, polygyny markedly decreased the relatedness among nestmate workers. Our findings also demonstrate that polygyny in M. bicolor may arise from the adoption of related or unrelated queens.

Keywords : Melipona; microsatellites; polygyny; queen number; social structure.

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