News & Events
Unusual asexual termites found
- September 17, 2019
- Posted by: Wiley M. Wagner
- Category: Science
Some species of termites are quite well known for their asexual tendency – in other words, some colonies of termites can reproduce without the participation of males, exclusively with the help of the female’s internal resources. Although termites do not follow this rule without reservation, a recent find by specialists from Japan confirms in some way the previous theory that the transition to the so-called asexuality is one of the evolutionary trends in the development of termites as a species that allows them not only to survive successfully, but also to develop acquiring new traits and evolutionary skills.
It is a question of finding several colonies of Japanese termites of the species Glypotermes makajimai, some of which really follow the practice of asexuality. Scientists analyzed ten separate colonies and, after conducting a comparative study, came to the conclusion that in six of them the development of the species is really carried out without the support of males. Upon a more detailed examination of the issue, they found that in all such “female” colonies the Queen of Termites did not show sperm and fertilized eggs – which again indicates that evolution determines the transition of this type of termite to asexuality.
What is even more surprising is that even despite the absence of fertilized eggs, these eggs grow and evolve no worse than fertilized ones. All this raises a rather interesting question about what role the male plays in this society – also taking into account the fact that over time in these colonies there was a process of partial destruction of unfertilized eggs.
Research in this sense is at an impasse. However, the researchers are sure that this riddle will remain so for a short time – they are already conducting some theoretical and computer simulations regarding evolutionary termite biology in order to find the very turning point that led to such an interesting trend. Most likely, the researchers are dealing with another evolutionary adaptation of termites.