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Where did western honey bees come from? New analysis finds the candy spot

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

For a long time, scientists have hotly debated the origin of the western honey bee. Now, new analysis led by York University has found these standard honey-producing bees probably originated in Asia.

From there, the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) expanded independently into Africa and Europe creating seven separate geographically and genetically distinct evolutionary lineages traceable again to Western Asia.

The western honey bee is used for crop pollination and honey manufacturing all through a lot of the world, and has a outstanding capability for surviving in vastly different environments—from tropical rainforest, to arid environments, to temperate areas with chilly winters. It is native to Africa, Europe and Asia, and was just lately believed to have originated in Africa.

The analysis crew sequenced 251 genomes from 18 subspecies from the honey bee’s native vary and used this information to reconstruct the origin and sample of dispersal of honey bees. The crew discovered that an Asian origin—seemingly Western Asia—was strongly supported by the genetic information.

“As one of the world’s most important pollinators, it’s essential to know the origin of the western honey bee to understand its evolution, genetics and how it adapted as it spread,” says corresponding writer Professor Amro Zayed of York University’s Faculty of Science.

The research additionally highlights that the bee genome has a number of “hot spots” that allowed honey bees to adapt to new geographic areas. While the bee genome has greater than 12,000 genes, solely 145 of them had repeated signatures of adaptation related to the formation of all main honey bee lineages discovered immediately.

“Our research suggests that a core-set of genes allowed the honey bee to adapt to a diverse set of environmental conditions across its native range by regulating worker and colony behaviour,” says York University Ph.D. scholar Kathleen Dogantzis of the Faculty of Science, who led the analysis.

This adaptation additionally allowed for the event of some 27 totally different subspecies of honey bees.

“It’s important to understand how locally adapted subspecies and colony-level selection on worker bees, contributes to the fitness and diversity of managed colonies,” says Dogantzis.

The sequencing of those bees additionally led to the invention of two distinct lineages, one in Egypt and one other in Madagascar.

The researchers hope their research lastly lays to the remainder the query of the place the western honey bee got here from so future analysis can additional discover how they tailored to totally different climates and geographic areas.

European ancestry plays role in ‘killer’ honey bees’ aggressiveness

More data:
Kathleen Dogantzis et al, Thrice out of Asia and the adaptive radiation of the western honey bee, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj2151. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abj2151

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Where did western honey bees come from? New analysis finds the candy spot (2021, December 3)
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