Bee genetics and conservation

Génétique des abeilles et conservation des espèces

Bienengenetik und Artenschutz

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The emerging threat of pollinator decline has motivated research on bee conservation biology in order to both understand the causes of declines and to develop appropriate conservation strategies. The application of genetics to the conservation of diploid animals has proven to be important for both overcoming genetic threats to population viability and for providing tools to guide conservation programs. However, the haplodiploid bees have several unusual genetic properties of relevance to their conservation, which warrant special attention. Here I review how haplodiploidy and complementary sex determination affect genetic parameters pertinent to the viability and future evolutionary potential of bee populations. I also review how genetic tools can improve the conservation management of bees. I find that bees are especially prone to extinction for genetic reasons, and that genetics can provide invaluable tools for managing bee populations to circumvent pollinator decline.


In dieser Arbeit betrachten wir, welche Rolle die Genetik im Rückgang der Bienenpopulationen spielt und wie die Werkzeuge der Genetik in Bienenschutzprojekten eingesetzt werden können. Genetische Marker haben sich als höchst nützlich erwiesen in der Bestimmung wichtiger demographischer Parameter von Bienenpopulationen (z.B. Populationsgrössen, Dichte, Vernetzung, Ausbreitungsraten und Sammelradien), sowie zur Klärung taxonomischer Probleme und zur Erkennung von Rückgängen in Populationen. Neuere Fortschritte in der Bienengenomik sollten ebenfalls einen Beitrag zur Erleichterung von Untersuchungen über die Ursachen von Rückgängen in Bienenpopulationen leisten. Die Integration der Kentnisse zur Genetik und Genomik der Bienen mit denen ihrer Ökologie sollte daher deutliche Verbesserungen in Bienen-schutzprogrammen zur Folge haben. Ein wichtiger Faktor, der kleine Bienenpopulationen bedroht, ist die durch Homozygotie am Geschlechtslokus ausgelöste Produktion nicht lebensfähiger, steriler diploider Männchen anstelle von Weibchen (Abb. 1). Das Vorkommen diploider Männchen ist für mindesten 27 Arten beschrieben (Tab. I) und die Frequenz dieser Männchen nimmt in kleinen Populationen durch Homozygotie am Geschlechtsbestimmungslokus bedingt durch genetische Drift zu (Abb. 2). Simulationsstudien lassen erwarten, dass die Produktion diploider Männchen die Populationswachstumsraten vor allem bei solitären Bienen reduzieren kann, die eine niedrige Fekundität in ihrer Gesamtlebenszeit aufweisen. Das Problem der Produktion diploider Männchen geht so Hand in Hand mit negativen Umweltfaktoren und führt zu einem schnelleren Rückgang und einer langsameren Erhohlung von Populationen (Abb. 3). Sie spielt damit eine wichtige Rolle im weltweiten Rückgang von Bienen.

Ausser der Produktion diploider Männchen könnte auch eine Inzuchtdepression das Überleben kleiner Bienenpopulationen gefährden. Obwohl zu erwarten wäre, dass die Haplodoploidie die genetische Bürde bei Bienen reduziert, zeigen sowohl theoretische Studien als auch empirische Befunde, dass selbst haplodiploide Organismen eine erhebliche Inzuchtdepression durchlaufen können. Schutzprogramme für gefährdete und zurückgehende Bienenpopulationen sollten daher bestrebt sein, die Produktion diploider Männchen und Inzucht zu reduzieren.

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Zayed, A. Bee genetics and conservation. Apidologie 40, 237–262 (2009).

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  • haplodiploid
  • complementary sex determination
  • inbreeding depression
  • diploid males
  • extinction
  • Apoidea
  • haploidiploïdie
  • dépression consanguinité
  • m^ale diploïde
  • extinction
  • détermination sexe complémentaire
  • abeille
  • Haplodiploidie
  • Komplementäre Geschlechtsdeterminierung
  • Inzuchtdepression
  • diploide Männchen
  • Artensterben