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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Genetic structure of the gentle Africanized honey bee population (gAHB) in Puerto Rico

Alberto Galindo-Cardona12*, Jenny P Acevedo-Gonzalez12, Bert Rivera-Marchand3 and Tugrul Giray2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Crops and AgroEnvironmental Sciences, Agricultural Experimental Station, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, South Botanical Garden, Guayacán St. 1193, San Juan PR 00926, Puerto Rico

2 Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Natural Sciences, P.O. Box 23360, San Juan 00931, Puerto Rico

3 Department of Science and Mathematics, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon, PR, USA

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BMC Genetics 2013, 14:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-14-65

Published: 6 August 2013

Abstract

Background

The Africanized honey bee is one of the most spectacular invasions in the Americas. African bees escaped from apiaries in Brazil in 1956, spread over Americas and by 1994 they were reported in Puerto Rico. In contrast to other places, the oceanic island conditions in Puerto Rico may mean a single introduction and different dynamics of the resident European and new-coming Africanized bees.

To examine the genetic variation of honey bee feral populations and colonies from different locations in Puerto Rico, we used eight known polymorphic microsatellite loci.

Results

In Puerto Rico, gAHB population does not show any genetic structure (Fst = 0.0783), and is best described as one honey bee population, product of hybridization of AHB and EHB. The genetic variability in this Africanized population was similar to that reported in studies from Texas. We observed that European private allele frequencies are high in all but one locus. This contrasts with mainland Africanized populations, where European allele frequencies are diminished. Two loci with European private alleles, one on Linkage Group 7, known to carry two known defensiveness Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs), and the other on Linkage Group 1, known to carry three functionally studied genes and 11 candidate genes associated with Varroa resistance mechanisms were respectively, significantly greater or lower in European allele frequency than the other loci with European private alleles.

Conclusions

Genetic structure of Puerto Rico gAHB differs from mainland AHB populations, probably representing evolutionary processes on the island.

Keywords:
Apis mellifera; Honeybee population; Hybridization; Africanized; European bees