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Genetics Selection Evolution

Open Access

Genetic structure of Balearic honeybee populations based on microsatellite polymorphism

  • Pilar De la Rúa1Email author,
  • José Galián1,
  • José Serrano1 and
  • Robin FA Moritz2
Genetics Selection Evolution200335:339

Received: 2 January 2002

Accepted: 21 November 2002

Published: 15 May 2003


The genetic variation of honeybee colonies collected in 22 localities on the Balearic Islands (Spain) was analysed using eight polymorphic microsatellite loci. Previous studies have demonstrated that these colonies belong either to the African or west European evolutionary lineages. These populations display low variability estimated from both the number of alleles and heterozygosity values, as expected for the honeybee island populations. Although genetic differentiation within the islands is low, significant heterozygote deficiency is present, indicating a subpopulation genetic structure. According to the genetic differentiation test, the honeybee populations of the Balearic Islands cluster into two groups: Gimnesias (Mallorca and Menorca) and Pitiusas (Ibiza and Formentera), which agrees with the biogeography postulated for this archipelago. The phylogenetic analysis suggests an Iberian origin of the Balearic honeybees, thus confirming the postulated evolutionary scenario for Apis mellifera in the Mediterranean basin. The microsatellite data from Formentera, Ibiza and Menorca show that ancestral populations are threatened by queen importations, indicating that adequate conservation measures should be developed for protecting Balearic bees.


honeybeemicrosatellitespopulation structuregenetic diversityBalearic Islands

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Authors’ Affiliations

Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Apdo. 4021, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain
Institute of Zoology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale, Germany


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2003