Bee genetics and conservationAmro 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