Thelytoky (from the Greek thēlys "female" and tokos "birth") is a type of parthenogenesis in which females are produced from unfertilized eggs. Thelytokous parthenogenesis is rare in the animal kingdom and has only been reported in about 1,500 species. It is more common in invertebrates, like arthropods, but can also occur in vertebrates, like some whiptail lizards.
Thelytoky can occur by a number of different mechanisms each of which has a different impact on the level of homozygosity. It can be induced in Hymenoptera by the bacteria Wolbachia and Cardinium, and has also been described in several groups of Hymenoptera, including Cynipidae, Tenthredinidae, Aphelinidae, Ichneumonidae, Apidae and Formicidae.
Thelytoky in ants, bees, and wasps
Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps) have a haplodiploid sex-determination system. They produce haploid males from unfertilized eggs through arrhenotokous parthenogenesis. However in a few social hymenoptera, queens or workers are capable of producing diploid female offspring by thelytoky. The daughters produced may or may not be complete clones of their mother depending on the type of parthenogenesis that takes place. The offspring can develop into either queens or workers. Examples of such species include the Cape bee, Apis mellifera capensis, Mycocepurus smithii and clonal raider ant, Cerapachys biroi.
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