Submitted to: Annals of the Entomological Society of America
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/1999
Publication Date: 6/1/2000
Citation: Evans, J.D., Pettis, J.S., Shimanuki, H. 2000. Mitochondrial dna relationships in an emergent pest: small hive beetles, aethina tumida (coleoptera:nitidulidae), from the united states and africa. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 9:415-520. Interpretive Summary: The small hive beetle is a newly-introduced pest of honey bee colonies that has spread throughout the southeastern U.S. Apparently introduced from South Africa, the beetles attack and destroy honey bee colonies, often leaving unharvested honey in an unusable state. Using the techniques of molecular biology, we have compared hive beetles collected in the U.S. with beetles collected in South Africa. Analyses indicate a close genetic similarity between these populations. These results will be helpful in controlling small hive beetles by directing efforts to find pathogens and parasites of this beetle.
Technical Abstract: The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is a new pest of honey bee colonies in the United States. Specimens of Aethina tumida were collected throughout its current range in the southeastern United States, and from several sites in South Africa. A 1038 base-pair section of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene was amplified and sequenced in 26 beetles collected from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and 14 beetles collected from seven sites in South Africa. Mitochondrial DNA variation between all small hive beetle samples was less than 0.8%, still considered within the range expected for a single species. The U.S. samples showed two distinct haplotypes, differing by 6 base pairs (0.6%). Both haplotypes were found across and within several geographic regions, a result consistent with a single introduction into the U.S. However, a broad survey of 151 beetles from their new range revealed significant heterogeneity in haplotype frequencies, perhaps resulting from multiple introductions. While the data do not allow a precise estimate of the point from which small hive beetles were accidentally exported from South Africa, the close genetic similarity between beetles from the U.S. and South Africa indicates that studies conducted on beetle physiology, parasites and pathogens in South Africa will have a direct bearing on populations now found in the U.S.