Volume 44 Issue 3
May  2023
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Article Contents
Lifei Qiu, Jiangxing Dong, Xingan Li, Sajad H. Parey, Ken Tan, Michael Orr, Aquib Majeed, Xue Zhang, Shiqi Luo, Xuguo Zhou, Chaodong Zhu, Ting Ji, Qingsheng Niu, Shanlin Liu, Xin Zhou. Defining honeybee subspecies in an evolutionary context warrants strategized conservation. Zoological Research, 2023, 44(3): 483-493. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2022.414
Citation: Lifei Qiu, Jiangxing Dong, Xingan Li, Sajad H. Parey, Ken Tan, Michael Orr, Aquib Majeed, Xue Zhang, Shiqi Luo, Xuguo Zhou, Chaodong Zhu, Ting Ji, Qingsheng Niu, Shanlin Liu, Xin Zhou. Defining honeybee subspecies in an evolutionary context warrants strategized conservation. Zoological Research, 2023, 44(3): 483-493. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2022.414

Defining honeybee subspecies in an evolutionary context warrants strategized conservation

doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2022.414
The newly sequenced data have been archived at the NCBI SRA under accession No. PRJNA870246, as well as the Genome Sequence Archive (https://ngdc.cncb.ac.cn./gsz) and Science Data Bank (https://www.scidb.cn/en) under accessions PRJCA015358 and 10.57760/sciencedb.07636, respectively.
Supplementary data to this article can be found online.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Xin Z. and S.L. designed the study. L.Q. performed morphometrics analysis. S.L. conducted population genomics and mitochondrial analyses. J.D. assisted with sequencing data analysis. S.H.P. and A.M. acquired Indian specimens. Q.N., T.J., X.L., and Xin Z. organized sampling. X.L. provided samples from Northeast China and Japan. M.O., C.Z., X Zhang., Xuguo Z., and S. Luo assisted in manuscript writing. K.T. provided morphological data for a series of geographic populations. Xin Z., S.L., and L.Q. wrote the first drafts, and all authors contributed to and proof-read the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Funds:  The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation (NSF) of China (32270475), Program of Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2018FY100403), National Special Support Program for High-level Talents (Ten-Thousand Talents Program), and 2115 Talent Development Program of China Agricultural University through Xin Z. S.L. is supported by Funds for International Cooperation and Exchange of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (3211001043). Sample collection was also supported by the NSF of China (31470123) and Jilin Science and Technology Program (20030561) through X.L. S.H.P. is supported by the National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS) - Almora, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, through grant GBPNI/NMHS-2017-18/MG-12
More Information
  • Despite the urgent need for conservation consideration, strategic action plans for the preservation of the Asian honeybee, Apis cerana Fabricius, 1793, remain lacking. Both the convergent and divergent adaptations of this widespread insect have led to confusing phenotypical traits and inconsistent infraspecific taxonomy. Unclear subspecies boundaries pose a significant challenge to honeybee conservation efforts, as it is difficult to effectively prioritize conservation targets without a clear understanding of subspecies identities. Here, we investigated genome variations in 362 worker bees representing almost all populations of mainland A. cerana to understand how evolution has shaped its population structure. Whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) based on nuclear sequences revealed eight putative subspecies, with all seven peripheral subspecies exhibiting mutually exclusive monophyly and distinct genetic divergence from the widespread central subspecies. Our results demonstrated that most classic morphological traits, including body size, were related to the climatic variables of the local habitats and did not reflect the true evolutionary history of the organism. Thus, such morphological traits were not suitable for subspecific delineation. Conversely, wing vein characters showed relative independence to the environment and supported the subspecies boundaries inferred from nuclear genomes. Mitochondrial phylogeny further indicated that the present subspecies structure was a result of multiple waves of population divergence from a common ancestor. Based on our findings, we propose that criteria for subspecies delineation should be based on evolutionary independence, trait distinction, and geographic isolation. We formally defined and described eight subspecies of mainland A. cerana. Elucidation of the evolutionary history and subspecies boundaries enables a customized conservation strategy for both widespread and endemic honeybee conservation units, guiding colony introduction and breeding.
  • The newly sequenced data have been archived at the NCBI SRA under accession No. PRJNA870246, as well as the Genome Sequence Archive (https://ngdc.cncb.ac.cn./gsz) and Science Data Bank (https://www.scidb.cn/en) under accessions PRJCA015358 and 10.57760/sciencedb.07636, respectively.
    Supplementary data to this article can be found online.
    The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
    Xin Z. and S.L. designed the study. L.Q. performed morphometrics analysis. S.L. conducted population genomics and mitochondrial analyses. J.D. assisted with sequencing data analysis. S.H.P. and A.M. acquired Indian specimens. Q.N., T.J., X.L., and Xin Z. organized sampling. X.L. provided samples from Northeast China and Japan. M.O., C.Z., X Zhang., Xuguo Z., and S. Luo assisted in manuscript writing. K.T. provided morphological data for a series of geographic populations. Xin Z., S.L., and L.Q. wrote the first drafts, and all authors contributed to and proof-read the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
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