Free Access
Volume 40, Number 2, March-April 2009
Page(s) 134 - 139
Published online 28 January 2009
Apidologie 40 (2009) 134-139
DOI: 10.1051/apido/2008070

DNA amplification from pin-mounted bumble bees (Bombus) in a museum collection: effects of fragment size and specimen age on successful PCR

James P. Strange, Joyce Knoblett and Terry Griswold

USDA-ARS, Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory, Utah State University, BNR 255 Logan UT 84322-5310, USA

Received 28 December 2007 – Revised 28 August 2008 – Accepted 15 November 2008 - Published online 28 January 2009

Abstract - Historic data in the form of pinned specimens in entomological collections offer the potential to determine trends in genetic diversity of bumble bees (Bombus). We screened eight microsatellite loci in pinned bumble bee specimens from the U. S. National Pollinating Insects Collection. We tested three species (Bombus appositus, Bombus huntii and Bombus occidentalis) representing three subgenera of bumble bees (Subterraneobombus, Pyrobombus and Bombus sensu stricto) respectively. Bombus occidentalis is a species of particular concern for conservation biologists. Single mid-legs of ninety-six individuals from each species were assayed to determine microsatellite amplification success rates of historic material in a museum collection. Microsatellite alleles amplified in specimens up to 101 years old, but the rate of amplification success was significantly lower in material over 60 years of age. Loci with shorter allele sizes amplified more frequently than relatively longer alleles in samples from all age classes. We correlate the age of specimens to the age at which loci fail to amplify and discuss potential impacts of using certain markers for population genetic studies of museum specimens.

Key words: Bombus / museum specimens / conservation genetics / microsatellite / ancient DNA / PCR success rate

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2009