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Invasion success of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, despite a drastic genetic bottleneck

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 19:10 authored by Schmid-Hempel, P, Schmid-Hempel, R, Brunner, PC, Seeman, OD, Geoff AllenGeoff Allen
In early 1992, the European bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, was first seen in Tasmania and currently has spread to most of the island. Here, we report on the genetic structure, using micro-satellites, of the invading population from samples collected in the years 1998-2000, a few years after the first sighting of the species in its new area. The data show that the Tasmanian population has a very low genetic diversity, with less than half of the allelic richness (Richness=2.89 alleles; Hexp=0.591) and lower levels of heterozygosity as compared to populations in New Zealand (4.24 alleles; H exp=0.729) and Europe (5.08 alleles; Hexp=0.826). In addition, the genetic data suggest that the invasion must have happened once, probably around late 1991, and was the result of very few, perhaps only two, individuals arriving in Tasmania. Furthermore, these founders came from the New Zealand population. Today, the population in the south of Tasmania seems to act as a source population from which individuals migrate into other parts of the state. A similar source-sink structure seems also the case for New Zealand. The data show that B. terrestris is a highly invasive species capable of establishing itself even after a dramatic genetic bottleneck. B. terrestris may be an invasive species due to the haplo-diploid sex determination system, which exposes recessive, deleterious mutations to selection. Offspring of such purged lines may then be able to tolerate high levels of inbreeding. © 2007 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.


University of Tasmania


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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


Nature Publishing Group

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United Kingdom

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