We examined the possible role of negative heterosis in the invasion process of the African honeybee, by testing the hypothesis that fluctuating asymmetry (FA), a measure of developmental stability, should be higher in the hybrid versus pure bred progeny of African and European races. Pure bred and reciprocal hybrid worker genotypes were cross-fostered in common-hive rearing environments. Contrary to our prediction, we did not find greater FA for wing size and shape in the hybrids compared to both parental genotypes. However, FA of shape was significantly lower in the African workers compared to the European and hybrid workers combined, suggesting that European bees and their hybrids may have compromised fitness relative to African bees. We also found that the two hybrid genotypes significantly differed in overall wing size and shape. If these differences affect wing aerodynamics, then the paternity of hybrids may influence worker performance and could potentially contribute to the loss of European matrilines. Thus, hybridization may influence developmental stability and wing morphology, and negative heterosis may contribute to the ability of African bees to displace European honey bee races in invaded regions.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Apidae Apis mellifera (European honey bee, African honey bee)
Keywords: fluctuating asymmetry, hybrid inferiority
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