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Honey bee invaders exploit the genetic resources of their predecessors
Date:2/25/2008

can bees are doing better because there were western European honey bees there for them to mix with, he said. Now we can say we have a signature for evolution in the genome.

While the researchers do not yet know how these European honey bee genes are enhancing the survival and fitness of the Africanized bees in the Americas, Whitfield said, it may be that specific traits from western Europe are beneficial, or it may be that being a hybrid is, in and of itself, a good thing for these bees.

In a separate finding, the researchers also discovered a genome-wide signature of evolution associated with the ancient expansion of honey bees from Africa into temperate regions of western and northern Europe. In this expansion, functional parts of the genome have changed more than nonfunctional parts.

Whitfield thinks that these changes may involve social adaptations to survive the hard winters.

The way the honey bees survive in temperate regions is sort of the way humans do, Whitfield said. They have a shelter. They store resources.

Not needing to survive in such cold weather, African bees store less food and reproduce more.

So how does an animal thats basically tropical make it? How does it expand its territory and thrive in very harsh winter conditions in this temperate region? Whitfield asked. Humans did it, and Apis mellifera did it in some interestingly parallel ways.


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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