Population Genetics of Commercial and Feral Honey Bees in Western Australia

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Due to the introduction of exotic honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) diseases in the eastern states, the borders of the state of Western Australia were closed to the import of bees for breeding and other purposes >25 yr ago. To provide genetically improved stock for the industry, a closed population breeding program was established that now provides stock for the majority of Western Australian beekeepers. Given concerns that inbreeding may have resulted from the closed population breeding structure, we assessed the genetic diversity within and between the breeding lines by using microsatellite and mitochondrial markers. We found that the breeding population still maintains considerable genetic diversity, despite 25 yr of selective breeding. We also investigated the genetic distance of the closed population breeding program to that of beekeepers outside of the program, and the feral Western Australian honey bee population. The feral population is genetically distinct from the closed population, but not from the genetic stock maintained by beekeepers outside of the program. The honey bees of Western Australia show three mitotypes, originating from two subspecies: Apis mellifera ligustica (mitotypes C1 and M7b) and Apis mellifera iberica (mitotype M6). Only mitotypes C1 and M6 are present in the commercial populations. The feral population contains all three mitotypes.

Keywords: Apis; bee breeding; feral honey bees; population genetics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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