Free access
Volume 40, Number 3, May-June 2009
Bee conservation
Page(s) 237 - 262
Published online 07 July 2009
Apidologie 40 (2009) 237-262
DOI: 10.1051/apido/2009026

Bee genetics and conservation

Amro Zayed

Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1206 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, 61801, USA

Received 29 August 2008 – Revised 5 January 2009 – Accepted 15 January 2009 - Published online 7 July 2009

Abstract - The emerging threat of pollinator decline has motivated research on bee conservation biology in order to both understand the causes of declines and to develop appropriate conservation strategies. The application of genetics to the conservation of diploid animals has proven to be important for both overcoming genetic threats to population viability and for providing tools to guide conservation programs. However, the haplodiploid bees have several unusual genetic properties of relevance to their conservation, which warrant special attention. Here I review how haplodiploidy and complementary sex determination affect genetic parameters pertinent to the viability and future evolutionary potential of bee populations. I also review how genetic tools can improve the conservation management of bees. I find that bees are especially prone to extinction for genetic reasons, and that genetics can provide invaluable tools for managing bee populations to circumvent pollinator decline.

Key words: haplodiploid / complementary sex determination / inbreeding depression / diploid males / extinction

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2009