A worldwide survey of genome sequence variation reveals the evolutionary history of the honeybee Apis mellifera

CEES Extra seminar by Matthew Webster


The honeybee Apis mellifera has huge ecological and economic importance, yet populations are declining while studies of genetic variation remain limited. Here we analyse 140 honeybee genomes from a worldwide sample to illuminate the evolutionary history and genetic basis of local adaptation of this species. We find evidence that population sizes have fluctuated greatly in the past, mirroring historical fluctuations in climate, although contemporary populations have high genetic diversity, indicating the absence of domestication bottlenecks. Levels of genetic variation are strongly shaped by natural selection and are highly correlated with patterns of gene expression and DNA methylation. We identify hundreds of genetic variants involved in local adaptation, which are enriched in genes expressed in workers and in immune and sperm motility genes, which may underlie geographic variation in reproduction, dispersal and disease resistance. This study provides a framework for future investigations into responses to pathogens and climate change in honeybees.

Matthew Webster
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology
Uppsala University

Published Apr. 30, 2014 9:48 AM - Last modified Oct. 31, 2018 2:32 PM