Girl Power Termite Colonies Thrive Without Males

first_imgStay on target Who run the termite colonies? Girls.A new study, published in the journal BMC Biology, revealed that termite colonies can thrive and reproduce without males.A win for feminists everywhere, the findings prove that fellas aren’t required to maintain some advanced animal populations. (Unfortunately, humans aren’t one of them.)Many hymenopteran insect species, such as bees and ants, are essentially all-female societies. (Probably because egg-laying ladies have control over the sex of their offspring—a phenomenon called haplodiploidy.)But termites hail from a different insect order, and typically contain male and female reproductives and workers, according to The University of Sydney.A team of scientists, however, identified an exception to the rule: colonies that completely lack males.Six of 10 termite populations (of the Glyptotermes nakajimai species) analyzed by researchers in Japan were entirely comprised of asexual females, whose queens contained no sperm and unfertilized eggs.(In terms of biology, asexual reproduction refers to the emergence of offspring from a single organism—in this case, the female termite. Single-celled organisms like bacteria and many plants and fungi reproduce asexually.)Analysts also confirmed that there was no significant difference in the hatching rate of those unfertilized eggs versus inseminated eggs from mixed-sex colonies.“These results demonstrate males are not essential for the maintenance of animal societies in which they previously played an active social role,” study co-author Nathan Lo, a professor at The University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, said in a statement.Asexual reproduction could allow termites to successfully adapt to a range of new environments.“All else being equal, asexual populations grow at twice the rate of sexual populations because only females are required to reproduce,” Lo explained. “This increased growth rate of colonies makes it easier for populations to entrench themselves in new environments.”The study was co-written by researchers from Australia’s University of Sydney and the Laboratory of Insect Ecology at Kyoto University in Japan.Creepy crawlies have become a prolific muse for roboticists. Meanwhile, researchers recently discovered that ant brains grow proportionally to communal responsibilities, and color-changing beetles may be the key to more vivid makeup. Keep up to date on all things insects here.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Watch: Man Uses Roman Candle to Kill Hornets, Sets Roof on FireLas Vegas Pizzeria Offers ‘Grasshopper Pie’ Amid Insect Inva… last_img