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Genic control of honey bee dance language dialect


Behavioural genetic analysis of honey bee dance language shows simple Mendelian genic control over certain dance dialect differences. Worker honey bees of one parent colony (yellow) changed from round to transition dances for foraging distances of 20 m and from transition to waggle dances at 40 m. Worker bees of the other parent colony (black) made these shifts at 30 m and 90 m, respectively. F1 colonies behaved identically to their yellow parent, suggesting dominance. Progeny of backcrossing between the F1 generation and the putative recessive black parent assorted to four classes, indicating that the dialect differences studied are regulated by genes at two unlinked loci, each having two alleles. Honey bee dance communication is complex and highly integrated behaviour. Nonetheless, analysis of a small element of this behaviour, variation in response to distance, suggests that dance communication is regulated by subsets consisting of simple genic systems.

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Communicated by J. S. F. Barker

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Rinderer, T.E., Beaman, L.D. Genic control of honey bee dance language dialect. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 91, 727–732 (1995).

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Key words

  • Honey bee
  • Dance communication
  • Behavioural genetics
  • Single-gene effects