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The Origin of West European Subspecies of Honeybees (Apis mellifera): New Insights from Microsatellite and Mitochondrial Data

Pierre Franck, Lionel Garnery, Michel Solignac and Jean-Marie Cornuet
Evolution
Vol. 52, No. 4 (Aug., 1998), pp. 1119-1134
DOI: 10.2307/2411242
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411242
Page Count: 16
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The Origin of West European Subspecies of Honeybees (Apis mellifera): New Insights from Microsatellite and Mitochondrial Data
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Abstract

Apis mellifera is composed of three evolutionary branches including mainly African (branch A), western and northern European (branch M), and southeastern European (branch C) populations. The existence of morphological clines extending from the equator to the Polar Circle through Morocco and Spain raised the hypothesis that the branch M originated in Africa. Mitochondrial DNA analysis revealed that branches A and M were characterized by highly diverged lineages implying very remote links between both branches. It also revealed that mtDNA haplotypes from lineages A coexisted with haplotypes M in the Iberian Peninsula and formed a south-north frequency cline, suggesting that this area could be a secondary contact zone between the two branches. By analyzing 11 populations sampled along a France-Spain/Portugal-Morocco-Guinea transect at 8 microsatellite loci and the DraI RFLP of the COI-COII mtDNA marker, we show that Iberian populations do not present any trace of 'africanization' and are very similar to French populations when considering microsatellite markers. Therefore, the Iberian Peninsula is not a transition area. The higher haplotype A variability observed in Spanish and Portuguese samples compared to that found in Africa is explained by a higher mutation rate and multiple and recent introductions. Selection appears to be the best explanation to the morphological and allozymic clines and to the diffusion and maintenance of African haplotypes in Spain and Portugal.

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