Morphometrical, biochemical and molecular tools for assessing biodiversity. An example in Plebeia remota (Holmberg, 1903) (Apidae, Meliponini)
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- Francisco, F.O., Nunes-Silva, P., Francoy, T.M. et al. Insect. Soc. (2008) 55: 231. doi:10.1007/s00040-008-0992-7
We see today many efforts to quantify biodiversity in different biomes. It is very important then to develop and to apply other methodologies that allow us to assess biodiversity. Here we present an example of application of three tools with this goal. We analyzed two populations of Plebeia remota from two distinct biomes that already showed several differences in morphology and behavior. Based on these differences, it has been suggested that the populations of Cunha and Prudentópolis do not represent a single species. In order to verify the existence or absence of gene flow between these two groups, we characterized the patterns of mtDNA through RFLP, the patterns of wing venation through geometric morphometry, and the cuticular hydrocarbons through gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We used bees collected in these two locations and also from colonies which have being kept for around 9 years at Sao Paulo University. We found six different haplotypes in these specimens, of which three of them occurred exclusively in the population of Cunha and three only in the Prudentópolis population. The fact that the populations do not share haplotypes suggests no maternal gene flow between them. The two populations were differentiated by the pattern of the wing veins. They also had different mixtures of cuticle hydrocarbons. Furthermore it was shown that the colonies kept at the university did not hybridize. These two groups may constitute different species. We also show here the importance of using other methodologies than traditional taxonomy to assess and understand biodiversity, especially in bees.