Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Evolutionary History of Honeybees Revealed by Genomics

Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Researchers found that glaciation and historic climate change has significantly impacted honeybee populations.

In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.

The honeybee (Apis mellifera) is of crucial importance for humanity. One third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Extensive losses of honeybee colonies in recent years are a major cause for concern. Honeybees face threats from disease, climate change, and management practices. To combat these threats it is important to understand the evolutionary history of honeybees and how they are adapted to different environments across the world.

‘We have used state-of-the-art high-throughput genomics to address these questions, and have identified high levels of genetic diversity in honeybees. In contrast to other domestic species, management of honeybees seems to have increased levels of genetic variation by mixing bees from different parts of the world. The findings may also indicate that high levels of inbreeding are not a major cause of global colony losses’, says Matthew Webster, researcher at the department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University.

Another unexpected result was that honeybees seem to be derived from an ancient lineage of cavity-nesting bees that arrived from Asia around 300,000 years ago and rapidly spread across Europe and Africa. This stands in contrast to previous research that suggests that honeybees originate from Africa.

‘The evolutionary tree we constructed from genome sequences does not support an origin in Africa, this gives us new insight into how honeybees spread and became adapted to habitats across the world’, says Matthew Webster.

Hidden in the patterns of genome variation are signals that indicate large cyclical fluctuations in population size that mirror historical patterns of glaciation. This indicates that climate change has strongly impacted honeybee populations historically.

‘Populations in Europe appear to have contracted during ice ages whereas African populations have expanded at those times, suggesting that environmental conditions there were more favourable’, says Matthew Webster.

The researchers also identified specific mutations in genes important in adaptation to factors such as climate and pathogens, including those involved in morphology, behaviour and innate immunity.

‘The study provides new insights into evolution and genetic adaptation, and establishes a framework for investigating the biological mechanisms behind disease resistance and adaptation to climate, knowledge that could be vital for protecting honeybees in a rapidly changing world’, says Matthew Webster.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Loss Of Y Chromosome Increases Risk Of Alzheimer’s
Men with blood cells that do not carry the Y chromosome are at greater risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is in addition to an increased risk of death from other causes, including many cancers. These new findings by researchers at Uppsala University could lead to a simple test to identify those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Bird Genome Contains 'Fossils' Of Parasites
Researchers from Uppsala University found DNA ‘fossils’ of parasitic nematodes in seven groups of birds.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Evolution Silences Harmful Mutations
Researchers have shown how an organism can deal with negative genetic mutations.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Improving Breast Cancer Treatment
A new study shows that a novel imaging-based method for defining appropriateness of breast cancer treatment is as accurate as the current standard-of-care and could reduce the need for invasive tissue sampling.
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
The Tree of Life — More Like A Bush
New species evolve whenever a lineage splits off into several. Because of this, the kinship between species is often described in terms of a ‘tree of life’, where every branch constitutes a species.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
New Clue to How Cancer Causes Organ Failure
New findings from a research group at Uppsala University show that the neutrophil, a type of blood cell, plays an important role in the process of induced organ failure.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Origin of Complex Life
After two billion years of simple bacterial and archaeal life reigning on earth, an archaea may have swallowed a bacterium, and become a new creature with enough energy to grow and diversify like never before: the eukaryote.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Disrupted Genetic Regulation Causes Common Disturbance in Metabolism of Fat
Uppsala scientists have now developed a method that can show what genes are regulated by the gene USF1, which is known to cause the familial combined hyperlipidemia.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Several Genes that Regulate the Disease SLE have been Identified
Uppsala researchers have identified a number of new genes that can be tied to the disease SLE, including a gene that hopefully might be used to treat the disease.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Scientific News
Integrated Omics Analysis
Studying multi-omics promises to give a more holistic picture of the organism and its place in its ecosystem, however despite the complexities involved those within the field are optimistic.
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Drug Target for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Found
A team of researchers led by UC San Francisco scientists has identified a new drug target for triple-negative breast cancer.
Wrapping up the Genome
Researchers successfully package complete yeast genome using purified components, yielding new insights into genome mechanisms.
Gene Therapy Going Global with Portable Device
Portable 'gene therapy in a box' could make future cancer and HIV cures affordable in developing countries.
Smartphone Laboratory Detects Cancer
Researchers develop low-cost, portable laboratory on a smartphonecapable of analysing multiple samples simultaneously.
Fighting Cancer with Immune Response
New treatment elicits two-pronged immune response that destroys tumors in mice.
Nanomedicine for Breast Cancer Treatment
Using nanoparticles measuring only billionths of a meter in size, doctors are able to deliver drug molecules directly to the affected tissue.
Zika Virus Infection Alters Human and Viral RNA
Researchers have discovered that Zika infections results in human and viral genetic modification.
Cell Metabolism Linked to Spread of Cancer
Scientists discover macrophage metabolism can be attuned to prevent the spread of cancer.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,200+ scientific videos