Genetic structure of colonies and a male aggregation in the stingless bee Scaptotrigona postica, as revealed by microsatellite analysis
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Stingless bee queens have for long been assumed to mate once on a nuptial flight, early in life. To evaluate critically monandry in one stingless bee, Scaptotrigona postica, worker offspring (adults or brood) were genetically analysed with microsatellite loci, five of which were developed specifically for the species. Marker loci were highly variable; unbiased estimates of heterozygosity were > 0.5. "Foreign" workers, either those having drifted from other colonies (circa 2%) or those of a replacement queen, were identified with the genetic markers and removed from further analysis. Worker genotypes were consistent with some queens having mated once and others having mated with up to six different males. Scaptotrigona postica queens are therefore facultatively polyandrous. Effective mating frequencies, me, were generally lower than the number of patrilines observed. Relatedness estimates of nestmates from individual colonies concurred with those derived from direct counts of the number of patrilines and their proportional representation. Putative genotypes of a colony's queen and her mates were deduced from those of her workers. Queens were generally not related to their mates. For one polyandrous queen, her six mates were related to each other, possibly because of numerically biased representation of males from different colonies at mating sites. However, males at an aggregation outside a colony came from numerous colonies.
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