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Reproductive interference between honey bee species in artificial sympatry

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Remnant, E. J., Koetz, A., Tan, K., Hinson, E., Beekman, M. and Oldroyd, B. P. (2014) Reproductive interference between honey bee species in artificial sympatry. Molecular Ecology . ISSN 1365-294X

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.12669


Reproductive isolation between closely related species is often incomplete. The Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, and the Eastern hive bee, A. cerana have been allopatric for millions of years, but are nonetheless similar in morphology and behaviour. During the last century the two species were brought into contact anthropogenically, providing potential opportunities for interspecific matings. Hybrids between A. mellifera and A. cerana are inviable, so natural interspecific matings are of concern because they may reduce the viability of A. cerana and A. mellifera populations – two of the world's most important pollinators. We examined the mating behaviour of A. mellifera and A. cerana queens and drones from Caoba Basin, China and Cairns, Australia. Drone mating flight times overlap in both areas. Analysis of the spermathecal contents of queens with species-specific genetic markers indicated that in Caoba Basin, 14% of A. mellifera queens mated with at least one A. cerana male, but we detected no A. cerana queens that had mated with A. mellifera males. Similarly, in Cairns, no A. cerana queens carried A. mellifera sperm, but one third of A. mellifera queens had mated with at least one A. cerana male. No hybrid embryos were detected in eggs laid by interspecifically-mated A. mellifera queens in either location. However A. mellifera queens artificially inseminated with A. cerana sperm produced inviable hybrid eggs, or unfertilised drones. This suggests that reproductive interference will impact the viability of honey bee populations wherever A. cerana and A. mellifera are in contact. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Interspecific mating Apis mellifera Apis cerana Spermatheca drone flight times mating interference
Subjects:Animal culture > Insect culture and beneficial insects > Bee culture
Science > Biology > Reproduction
Live Archive:05 Aug 2014 06:07
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:49

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