Honeybee Genome Sequenced by Scientists

A new research carried out by scientists in Sweden that focuses sequencing of genome of honey bees, also known as "Apis mellifera" has helped discover more about the genetic and the evolutionary history of these particular species.

After analyzing the genetic variations of honey bees globally, researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered the crucial pollinators originated from Asia, not Africa, and subsequently spread quickly across Europe and Africa.

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 140 honeybees from 14 populations from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, United States and Brazil. DNA clues were analyzed to get an idea that how these insects responded to survival threats throughout their 300 000-year history. The study results were reported in the journal Nature Genetics. It states that the research team has found evidence of evolutionary adaptation on some 3 000 individual genes of the Apis mellifera species, that boosted functions like immunity and climate adaptability.

Honey bees are very important to mankind since one third of our food is dependent upon pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees. The recent fall in their population has raised serious concerns. Therefore understanding the Genome will be a better way to preserve the bees in the future

The patters of genome variation also revealed fluctuations in their population size due to climate change. Certain insecticides have disturbed bee colonies in recent years and the Varroa mite (an external parasitic mite that attacks the honey bees) has also been troublesome in the U. S. and Europe.

Matthew Webster, a medical biochemistry researcher at Uppsala University, said," 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".