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Honeybees originated from Asia not Africa: Study

Posted on Aug 25 2014 | IANS

London, Aug 25 : Honeybees originated from Asia and not from Africa as previously thought, research indicates.

In the the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees, new findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in them.

Researchers found that honeybees seem to be derived from an ancient lineage of cavity-nesting bees that arrived from Asia around 300,000 years ago and rapidly spread across Europe and Africa.

"The findings indicate that high levels of inbreeding are not a major cause of global colony losses", explained Matthew Webster, a researcher from Uppsala University, Sweden.

The researchers also identified specific mutations in genes important in adaptation to factors such as climate and pathogens, including those involved in morphology, behaviour and innate immunity.

Hidden in the patterns of genome variation are signals that indicate large cyclical fluctuations in population size that mirror historical patterns of glaciation.

"The evolutionary tree we constructed from genome sequences does not support an origin in Africa. This gives us new insight into how honeybees spread and became adapted to habitats across the world," Webster noted.

This clearly indicates that climate change has strongly impacted honeybee populations historically, said the study that appeared in the journal Nature Genetics.

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