Evaluation of Apismelliferasyriaca Levant region honeybee conservation using comparative genome hybridization
Apismelliferasyriaca is the native honeybee subspecies of Jordan and much of the Levant region. It expresses behavioral adaptations to a regional climate with very high temperatures, nectar dearth in summer, attacks of the Oriental wasp and is resistant to Varroa mites. The A.m.syriaca control reference sample (CRS) in this study was originally collected and stored since 2001 from “Wadi Ben Hammad”, a remote valley in the southern region of Jordan. Morphometric and mitochondrial DNA markers of these honeybees had shown highest similarity to reference A.m.syriaca samples collected in 1952 by Brother Adam of samples collected from the Middle East. Samples 1–5 were collected from the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension breeding apiary which was established for the conservation of A.m.syriaca. Our objective was to determine the success of an A.m.syriaca honey bee conservation program using genomic information from an array-based comparative genomic hybridization platform to evaluate genetic similarities to a historic reference collection (CRS). Our results had shown insignificant genomic differences between the current population in the conservation program and the CRS indicated that program is successfully conserving A.m.syriaca. Functional genomic variations were identified which are useful for conservation monitoring and may be useful for breeding programs designed to improve locally adapted strains of A.m.syriaca.