Bees and Orphan Genes

So de novo genes are not the same thing as orphans, right?

I thought you might say that. For some reason it made it into the article on orphan genes. De novo/restricted and orphan genes could also be explained within the model of a progressive creationist.

I’d rather that bees be kind. (My wife had an anaphylactic reaction to a bumblebee sting.)


A couple months ago my coworker told me about a grade school project he was doing for his kid. He had a honey bee hive in the back yard of his suburban home. The amount of honey he’s able to harvest. The impending swarm that supposedly happens come next spring. The HOAs that probably wouldn’t approve. The liability involved of a neighbor going into anaphylaxis shock if stung. It was fascinating and scary at the same time.


It might be true that there are some taxonomically restricted genes that are related to social behavior, but I’d be surprised to hear that honey bees in particular owe their social behavior to a true orphan gene, considering how many other members of Hymenoptera are social too. Perhaps some particular aspect of their social structure is tied to this gene? That would make more sense to me.

There are many species of ants, wasps, and bees, that live in large colonies, with a queen that lays all the eggs, etc. etc. Many of them that aren’t bees are also pollinators(such as butterflies), though bees are still the most important member in that respect.

i know that some beetles (tribolium casteneum) share genes with human but not with other insects.

Such as…? Are you referring to the 126 genes this paper found were present in T. castaneum and humans but absent from a grand total of 4 other insect species - the honeybee and 3 species of Diptera?

This is just Sal’s flower Mk.2.


Given this as a hypothesis, what counter examples could be agreed upon; what organisms are not important to human prosperity, but possibly possess orphan genes? Mosquito’s, wasps, penguins, the host of various creatures found in only one narrow location in the world might qualify. This could be challenging because of the whole intertwined nature of ecology. To fill an ecological niche, is it necessary to have orphan genes?

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i think that its a bit different. how do you explain that these genes were lost from all the other insects but remain in human? a massive gene loss in insects?

It’s exactly the same. As I pointed out, it’s not “all other insects”, that’s your exaggeration that isn’t supported by any data. In fact it’s 4 species of insects, probably requiring just 2 independent gene losses for each of the 126 genes.


first: how do you know that these genes present in other insects?

second: even if we are talking about 2 gene loss, what is the chance that the same 126 genes will be deleted from the genome of two insects?

AAaaannd… here we go again. We discussed Sal’s flower for what seemed like months. Astonishingly, @scd does not seem to have learned a single thing from that discussion.


I don’t, that’s why if you read my comment carefully, I didn’t actually make that claim. I pointed out that you were unjustified in claiming that the genes are absent in all other insects.

That obviously depends on a host of factors, most of which we can’t know with any certainty, so we can’t calculate a specific probability with any certainty. That being said, it’s probably not particularly unlikely, given how often genes are lost. There’s bound to be some amount of overlap in which genes get lost in different lineages. For example, if the common ancestor started off with 10,000 genes, and each lineage lost 10% of those genes at random, then we’d expect 2 lineages to share on the order of 100 genes lost independently purely by chance. (10,000*(0.1^2))

This has all been discussed at length elsewhere. Search for “Sal’s flower” and read those threads, since it’s exactly the same principle as this case.


When creationists try use the Argument from Great Big Numbers, they usually invoke figures like 10^77 or something on that order.

I did not realize their standards have sunk so low that now even 126 qualifies.

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