, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 250–261 | Cite as

Newly discovered colour-pattern polymorphism of Bombus koreanus females (Hymenoptera: Apidae) demonstrated by DNA barcoding

  • Jiaxing HUANG
  • Jie WUEmail author
  • Jiandong AN
  • Paul H. WILLIAMS
Original article


Bombus (Megabombus) koreanus (Skorikov) is a long-tongued bumblebee that specialises in visiting deep flowers. To describe the distribution, colour-pattern variation and food plants of B. koreanus, we collected specimens and DNA cytochrome oxidase I (COI) barcodes were obtained. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of barcodes for Megabombus species shows that B. koreanus is one of the more recently diverged species and the sister species to Bombus consobrinus. Our results show that specimens with previously unknown colour patterns also belong to B. koreanus. We describe nine different colour patterns for workers and three for queens, in which the hair of the thorax varies from black to orange-brown. However, there is a lack of covariation between COI and colour-pattern variation. B. koreanus has been recorded to visit 11 species of food plants showing that B. koreanus is polylectic. Our results demonstrate that COI barcoding is an effective method for studying closely related taxa and for recognising species with variable colour patterns.


Bombus koreanus DNA barcoding taxonomy colour pattern 



This work was supported financially by the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-45), the International Cooperation and Exchange Program between the Natural Science Foundation of China and the Royal Society UK (31211130110) and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201203080). We thank P. Rasmont, M. Aytekin, L. Packer, J. Voith and A. Monfared for collecting specimens or providing COI barcodes. We thank Dr. Abebe Jenberie Wubie for his help in discussing the manuscript. We also thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments in revising the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag France 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiaxing HUANG
    • 1
  • Jie WU
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jiandong AN
    • 1
  • Paul H. WILLIAMS
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Insect-Pollinator Biology of the Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of ApicultureChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Life SciencesNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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