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Author Topic: An interesting read on the Honeybee Genome  (Read 2042 times)

Offline EOC

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An interesting read on the Honeybee Genome
« on: November 08, 2007, 09:51:24 pm »

Above is a link to an journal article in Nature titled "Insights into social insects from the
genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera".

Now while Im not a genetics guru by any means there are some interesting insights in the article worth noting.

- That Apis mellifera evolved it's sociality based upon the genome sequence that directs the production of the Royal Jelly proteins. It evolved and expanded itself, several times since its first inception. Every other social aspect of a honey bees life is a direct result of the  development of this protein.

- The genetic difference between your average honey bee and the Africanized variety is allelic in nature. Which basically means that the over defensive nature of AHB is due to just having a different form of a gene it shares with every other bee in the genera. In simpler terms it is the difference between having blue eyes and brown eyes. One gene codes for several different versions. Which means that over time the angry nature could be bred out with enough diluting of the gene pool.

- That increased pathogen load from living in a society has actually had a detrimental influence on the honey bees genome. It doesnt code for immunity, however disease does code specific responses that are encoded in the social parts of the genome.... Which is pretty freaking cool that almost everything is coded in a waterfall effect around the honeybees social programming.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: An interesting read on the Honeybee Genome
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2007, 10:01:44 pm »
>Which means that over time the angry nature could be bred out with enough diluting of the gene pool.

The problems with that are:

1) We have a program to kill any feral colonies, regardless of their aggressiveness, assuring that it will never happen.

2) AHB have a well developed reproductivity.  They make more drones, the smaller drones can fly further and longer than our large cell oversized European drones, drifting of drones means that the AHB drones will drift to EHB hives.  The presence of those AHB drones will suppress the EHB desire to raise drones. etc. etc. etc.

3) We have bred for reproductive disadvantage with our EHB.  For a century or more we have bred for LESS drones and BIGGER bees which means BIGGER drones who are slower and fly for a shorter period of time.  We have even enhanced that by putting them on large cell comb to make the bees even larger resulting in even larger drones.

So far we have been very careful to make sure that diluting AHB does not work.  ;)
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Offline EOC

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Re: An interesting read on the Honeybee Genome
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2007, 10:39:01 pm »
Well with regards to drone laying or egg laying in general I can comment that no reproductive traits can be selected for by a breeding program. An example is you cant separate a line of chickens that lays more or bigger eggs.Which basically means that there are too many genes influencing reproduction to single out a specific desired trait. So the queen probably will lay whatever proportions of worker/drones she is hard coded for regardless of outside interference.

So basically it comes down to what you said that EHB are too much like domestic livestock to genetically compete with AHB in any sense. In any respect managing AHB through selective breeding would probably be doable but a major pain in the butt.