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An overview of cytogenetics of the tribe Meliponini (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Tavares, Mara Garcia, Lopes, Denilce Meneses, Campos, L. A. O.
Genetica 2017 v.145 no.3 pp. 241-258
Melipona, chromosome morphology, chromosome number, heterochromatin, karyotyping, phylogeny, stingless bees
The present study provides a comprehensive review of cytogenetic data on Meliponini and their chromosomal evolution. The compiled data show that only 104 species of stingless bees, representing 32 of the 54 living genera have been studied cytogenetically and that among these species, it is possible to recognize three main groups with n = 9, 15 and 17, respectively. The first group comprises the species of the genus Melipona, whereas karyotypes with n = 15 and n = 17 have been detected in species from different genera. Karyotypes with n = 17 are the most common among the Meliponini studied to date. Cytogenetic information on Meliponini also shows that although chromosome number, in general, is conserved among species of a certain genus, other aspects, such as chromosome morphology, quantity, distribution and composition of heterochromatin, may vary between them. This reinforces the fact that the variations observed in the karyotypes of different Meliponini groups cannot be explained by a single theory or a single type of structural change. In addition, we present a discussion about how these karyotype variations are related to the phylogenetic relationships among the different genera of this tribe.