ORIGIN OF APIS MELLIFERA IN WEST UKRAINE: A MORPHOLOGICAL AND MOLECULAR APPROACH
Dept. of Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology,
Yuriy Fedkovych University of Chernivtsi,
The cultivated species Apis mellifera includes 26 subspecies, which originated from Europe, Africa and Asia, but are widely spread around the world today. The flow of genes between the subspecies was sometimes interrupted resulting in the formation of geographical races, which are adapted to specific geographic areas. It is accepted that the West Ukraine represents an area of natural spread of three subspecies of Apis mellifera, i.e. mellifera, carnica and macedonica. However, the modern diversity of honey bees can also be attributed by artificial introduction of other subspecies.
Using morphometric measurements, we have determined the current race composition of A. mellifera in some apiaries of Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi regions. The following exterior features were evaluated: cubital index, discoid shift, proboscis length and the shape of the rear edge of the wax mirrors. Analysis of the collected data showed that the morphological traits of bees in the studied apiaries do not fully comply with the existing breeding standard, which could have resulted from the hybridization with bee races introduced from other regions of Ukraine.
Due to high polymorphism of the existing races and subspecies of honeybee, their intraspecific taxonomy that relied only on morphological and anatomical data remained imperfect for several decades. Accordingly, application of molecular markers (e.g., sequencing of mitochondrial loci CoxI, CoxII, etc.) is required for reliable identification of subspecies and races. Accordingly, in order to elucidate the genetic origin and to identify honeybee subspecies currently present on the territory of the West Ukraine, we amplified by PCR and sequenced a fragment of CoxI from several individuals. The obtained data were compared with homologous sequences available in Genbank. It was found that the analyzed individuals occupy an isolated position on the obtained phylodendrogram, demonstrating the highest similarity to Apis mellifera ligustica. Therefore, the data show that this subspecies could participate in formation of modern bee races distributed in West Ukraine. More sequence information from bees collected in different regions of Ukraine is required to describe their origin and evolution in more details.