Ginandromorph found in nature: he has two fathers, but no mother

In an article published in the journal Biology Letters, scientists described bee ginandromorphs, as well as what they found using their example.

Honey bees are haplodiploid creatures. That is, their females develop from fertilized eggs, and the males from unfertilized ones. Because of this, bees can produce ginandromorphs, creatures with the presence of both female and male tissues.

Previous studies have suggested that the appearance of ginandromorphs is the result of rare mutations. This can happen due to the fact that many males mate with the queen, and as a result several sperm fertilize the egg at the same time. To understand more about the genetic processes involved, the researchers caught 11 ginandromorphs from one colony and studied their genome.

The study found that five individuals had normal ovaries, and three had ovaries similar to the ovaries of the queen. One had normal male genital organs, two had partial male organs. Genetic analysis showed that nine individuals had two or three fathers. And one had two fathers and not a single mother, which in nature generally occurs for the first time. Such a development could occur through the merger of sperm, however, scientists can’t say exactly how it turned out.

Researchers notice that ginandromorphs do not give any evolutionary advantages to a species, that is, their appearance is a mistake due to still unknown mutations, the carrier of which, most likely, is the hive’s uterus. Ginandromorphs were also found among crustaceans, in some insects and birds. The reasons for their appearance there are also unknown.

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