Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Baton Rouge, Louisiana » Honey Bee Lab » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366515

Research Project: Genetics and Breeding in Support of Honey Bee Health

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Title: Colonization history and population differentiation of the Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.) in Puerto Rico

item ACEVEDO-GONZALEZ, JENNY - University Of Puerto Rico
item GALINDO-CARDONA, ALBERTA - Scientific Research Commission Of Buenos Aires
item Avalos, Arian
item WHITFIELD, CHARLES - University Of Illinois
item RODRIGUEZ, DANIA - Scientific Research Commission Of Buenos Aires
item URIBE-RUBIO, JOSE - Centro Nacional De Recursos Genéticos
item GIRAY, TUGRUL - University Of Puerto Rico

Submitted to: Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2019
Publication Date: 9/28/2019
Citation: Acevedo-Gonzalez, J., Galindo-Cardona, A., Avalos, A., Whitfield, C., Rodriguez, D., Uribe-Rubio, J., Giray, T. 2019. Colonization history and population differentiation of the Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.) in Puerto Rico. Ecology and Evolution. 9:1-8.

Interpretive Summary: The trajectory of colonization and genetic source of the uniquely docile population of Africanized honey bees in Puerto Rico remained unknown. In this study we use a reference data set sampling Africanized honey bees across the Western Hemisphere and ancestral populations in the old world to estimate the founding population that led to Africanized honey bees in Puerto Rico. We show that gentle Africanized honey bees in Puerto Rico are most likely derived from populations in Texas during a period of intense hybridization as Africanized honey bees made their way through North America. We also show that similar populations are likely present in the southern hybridization zone in Argentina. This research outlines a clear path of colonization and identifies the genetic source of Puerto Rican gentle Africanized bees while simultaneously showing that such populations can be common by-products of the broader hybridization events that occur at the borders of Africanized honey bee expansion.

Technical Abstract: Honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) are the primary commercial pollinators across the world. The subspecies A. m. scutellata, originated in Africa, and was introduced to the Americas in 1956. For the last 60 years it hybridized successfully with European subspecies previously residents in the area, and the result of this hybridization was called Africanized Honey Bee (AHB). AHB spread since then, arriving to Puerto Rico (PR) in 1994. The honey bee population on the island acquired a mosaic of features from AHB or the European Honey Bee (EHB). AHB in Puerto Rico shows one distinctive characteristics such as docile behavior, and they are called gentle Africanized Honey Bee (gAHB). We used 917 SNP's to examine the population structure, genetic differentiation, origin and history of range expansion and colonization of gAHB on PR. We compared gAHB to populations that span the current distribution of A. mellifera worldwide. The gAHB population showed to be a single population that differs genetically from the examined populations of AHB. Texas and PR groups are the closest genetically. The results support the hypothesis that Texas AHB population is the source of gAHB of Puerto Rico.