Genetic integrity of the Dark European honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) from protected populations: a genome-wide assessment using SNPs and mtDNA sequence data

publication date: May 30, 2014
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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 53 (2) pp. 269-278
DOI
10.3896/IBRA.1.53.2.08
Date
May 2014
Article Title

Genetic integrity of the Dark European honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) from protected populations: a genome-wide assessment using SNPs and mtDNA sequence data

Author(s)

M Alice Pinto, Dora Henriques, Julio Chávez-Galarza, Per Kryger, Lionel Garnery, Romée van der Zee, Bjørn Dahle, Gabriele Soland-Reckeweg, Pilar de la Rúa, Raffaele Dall’ Olio, Norman L Carreck and J Spencer Johnston

Abstract

The recognition that the Dark European honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, is increasingly threatened in its native range has led to the establishment of conservation programmes and protected areas throughout western Europe. Previous molecular surveys showed that, despite management strategies to preserve the genetic integrity of A. m. mellifera, protected populations had a measurable component of their gene pool derived from commercial C-lineage honey bees. Here we used both sequence data from the tRNAleu-cox2 intergenic mtDNA region and a genome-wide scan, with over 1183 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), to assess genetic diversity and introgression levels in several protected populations of A. m. mellifera, which were then compared with samples collected from unprotected populations. MtDNA analysis of the protected populations revealed a single colony bearing a foreign haplotype, whereas SNPs showed varying levels of introgression ranging from virtually zero in Norway to about 14% in Denmark. Introgression overall was higher in unprotected (30%) than in protected populations (8%), and is reflected in larger SNP diversity levels of the former, although opposite diversity levels were observed for mtDNA. These results suggest that, despite controlled breeding, some protected populations still require adjustments to the management strategies to further purge foreign alleles, which can be identified by SNPs.

Keywords

Apis mellifera mellifera, Dark European honey bee, introgression, conservation, diversity, SNPs, tRNAleu-cox2 intergenic region

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