Bee conservation in the age of genomics
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Many wild and managed bee pollinators have experienced population declines over the past several decades, and molecular and population genetic tools have been valuable in understanding conservation threats across the bee tree of life. Emerging genomic tools have the potential to improve classical applications of conservation genetics, such as assessing species status, and quantifying genetic diversity, gene flow and effective population sizes. Genomic tools can also revolutionize novel research in bee conservation and management, including the identification of loci underlying adaptive and economically desirable traits, such as those involved in disease susceptibility, responses to multiple environmental stressors, and even discovering and understanding the hidden diversity of beneficial microorganisms associated with bees. In this perspective, we provide a survey of some of the ways genomic tools can be applied to bee conservation to bridge the gap between basic and applied genomics research.
KeywordsBees Pollination Population genetics Transcriptomics Genome wide association mapping Ecological genomics
We thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (Discovery grant to AZ) and the United States National Science Foundation Division of Environmental Biology (DEB-1457645 to JDL) for funding ongoing work relating to conservation genomics of bees. We thank S Jha, M Lopez-Uribe, and A Soro for organizing this special issue on Bee Conservation Genetics and the 2015 Ecological Society of America symposium bearing the same title.
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