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Female termites found to clone themselves via asexual reproduction

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Posted November 27, 2014

A pair of researches with Kyoto University has found how the queen of one species of termite, Reticulitermes speratus, ensures her genetic lineage continues by creating duplicate copies of herself. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Toshihisa Yashiro and Kenji Matsuura describe the study they carried out that showed how queens in such colonies reproduce themselves.

termite

A soldier termite (Macrotermitinae) in the Okavango Delta. Credit: Wikipedia

 

Scientists have known since 2009 that R. speratus queens created fatherless offspring which became queens themselves, but until now, the mechanism by which that came about has been a mystery. In this new effort, the researchers took a new look at the structure of the eggs laid by the queen to discover the difference between future queens and ordinary termites. Close inspection revealed tiny channels through the outer lining of the eggs called micropyles. The channels serve as an entry point for sperm, which the queen deposits on the eggs (after obtaining it from a male). Interestingly, the research pair found that the number of micropyles for any given egg appeared to be random, from one to more than thirty—the average was nine.

Read more at: Phys.org

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