, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 293-300
Date: 24 May 2009

Apis mellifera evolutionary lineages in Northern Africa: Libya, where orient meets occident

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The distribution of various evolutionary lineages of Apis mellifera subspecies in Africa is still controversial. We sampled honeybees from eight coastal locations and three Saharan oases in Libya and analyzed mtDNA variability with restriction fragment length polymorphisms and the sequence of the tRNAleu-cox2 intergenic region. Haplotypes belonging to the oriental O evolutionary lineage, including four which are newly described, were detected in all investigated locations. Haplotypes belonging to the European M lineage were rarely detected, probably reflecting the effect of sporadic importations. Honeybees belonging to the A lineage were detected in Al Aziziyah and Zlitan close to the Tunisian border. The distribution of the O lineage extends westward up to the border between Libya and Tunisia, a contact area between the O and A lineages. Various Libyan honeybee populations in Saharan oases are characterized by novel and unique haplotypes (O4, O5, O5′ and O5″). These might be natural relic populations that became isolated when the North African Sahara desert was still grassland (0.126–0.168 Myr ago).