We investigated the status of infestation by a tracheal mite, Locustacarus buchneri, in natural populations of a Japanese native bumblebee species, Bombus hypocrita, collected on Hokkaido Island and in the Aomori prefecture between 1997 and 2001. We also investigated mite infestation in commercial colonies of the European bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, imported from the Netherlands and Belgium, and the Japanese native species, B. ignitus, imported from the Netherlands, between 1997 and 2001. We detected mites in natural populations of the two B. hypocrita subspecies and in the commercial colonies. Analysis of variations in 535 bp sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (CO1) gene showed that the mite haplotypes in the native populations and in the imported colonies did not overlap in 1997–1999, but in 2000–2001 some mites possessing European CO1 haplotypes were detected in the natural populations of Japanese native bumblebees. In addition, many mites possessing Japanese haplotypes were detected in the imported commercial colonies from Europe. Considering the fact that the Japanese native bumblebees, B. hypocrita, were once exported to Europe for commercialization, these results suggest that bumblebee commercialization has caused overseas migration and cross-infestation of parasitic mites among natural and commercial colonies. However, because the Japanese and European CO1 haplotypes were closely related, there was a possibility that the European haplotypes found in the mites in the Hokkaido Island revealed native variation. To clarify the status of mite invasion, further detailed analysis of genetic variation of the mite, using other genetic markers on additional samples, need to be performed.
Invasive alien species Bombus terrestrisBombus hypocritaParasite Locustacarus buchneriDNA Ecological risk