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Genetic structure of Balearic honeybee populations based on microsatellite polymorphism

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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.

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Correspondence to Pilar De la Rúa.

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De la Rúa, P., Galián, J., Serrano, J. et al. Genetic structure of Balearic honeybee populations based on microsatellite polymorphism. Genet Sel Evol 35, 339 (2003) doi:10.1186/1297-9686-35-3-339

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  • honeybee
  • microsatellites
  • population structure
  • genetic diversity
  • Balearic Islands