A genome-wide signature of positive selection in ancient and recent invasive expansions of the honey bee Apis mellifera

Amro Zayed, Charles W. Whitfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apis mellifera originated in Africa and extended its range into Eurasia in two or more ancient expansions. In 1956, honey bees of African origin were introduced into South America, their descendents admixing with previously introduced European bees, giving rise to the highly invasive and economically devastating "Africanized" honey bee. Here we ask whether the honey bee's out-of-Africa expansions, both ancient and recent (invasive), were associated with a genome-wide signature of positive selection, detected by contrasting genetic differentiation estimates (FST) between coding and noncoding SNPs. In native populations, SNPs in protein-coding regions had significantly higher FST estimates than those in noncoding regions, indicating adaptive evolution in the genome driven by positive selection. This signal of selection was associated with the expansion of honey bees from Africa into Western and Northern Europe, perhaps reflecting adaptation to temperate environments. We estimate that positive selection acted on a minimum of 852-1,371 genes or ≈10% of the bee's coding genome. We also detected positive selection associated with the invasion of African-derived honey bees in the New World. We found that introgression of European-derived alleles into Africanized bees was significantly greater for coding than noncoding regions. Our findings demonstrate that Africanized bees exploited the genetic diversity present from preexisting introductions in an adaptive way. Finally, we found a significant negative correlation between FST estimates and the local GC content surrounding coding SNPs, suggesting that AT-rich genes play an important role in adaptive evolution in the honey bee.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3421-3426
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 4 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive evolution
  • F
  • Genetic differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'A genome-wide signature of positive selection in ancient and recent invasive expansions of the honey bee Apis mellifera'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this