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Distribution of the Main Apis mellifera Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in Italy Assessed Using an Environmental DNA Approach

Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Viale Giuseppe Fanin 46, 40127 Bologna, Italy
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Academic Editor: M. Alice Pinto
Insects 2021, 12(7), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070620
Received: 12 June 2021 / Revised: 2 July 2021 / Accepted: 5 July 2021 / Published: 8 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Insect Ecology, Diversity and Conservation)
The conservation of the genetic diversity of the native honey bee subspecies is a hot topic in many European countries. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses can provide some information that is useful to monitor the genetic integrity of Apis mellifera populations. A preliminary distribution of the main honey bee mitotypes in Italy was obtained more than 20 years ago. In this study we obtained an updated and more detailed distribution map of the main groups of honey bee mitotypes using an unconventional method that exploits the information derived from the environmental DNA contained in the honey. The results were quite different from the picture taken two decades ago. The African mtDNA lineage was spread all over Italy and not only in Sicily, where it is mainly attached to the A. m. siciliana subspecies, and where it was identified in the previous investigation. A reduction in the frequency of the M lineage was also evident, and, on the other hand, a counterbalanced increase in the C mitotypes was observed in regions all over. The obtained results provided an updated distribution map of the A, C and M groups of mitotypes in Italy, which could be a starting point to design appropriate conservation programs for native honey bee subspecies.
Growing interest has been emerging on the need to monitor the genetic integrity of the European Apis mellifera subspecies that could be threatened by the human-mediated dispersion of non-native populations and lines. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages can provide useful information for this purpose. In this study, we took advantage of the environmental DNA (eDNA) contained in the honey, which can be analyzed to detect the main groups of mitotypes of the honey bees that produced it. In this study, we applied this eDNA to produce a distribution map all over the Italian peninsula and the two major islands (Sicily and Sardinia) of the following three honey bee mtDNA lineages: A, C and M. A total of 607 georeferenced honey samples, produced in all Italian regions, was analyzed to detect these lineages. The A lineage was widespread in Sicily, as expected, considering that A. m. siciliana carries the African lineage. Surprisingly, this lineage was also reported in about 14% of all other samples produced in almost all continental regions, and in Sardinia. The applied method obtained an updated distribution map of honey bee mtDNA lineages that could be useful to design policies for the conservation of Italian honey bee genetic resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: conservation genetics; eDNA; honey; Italian peninsula; latitude; mitotype; mtDNA; population genetics; Sicily conservation genetics; eDNA; honey; Italian peninsula; latitude; mitotype; mtDNA; population genetics; Sicily
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MDPI and ACS Style

Utzeri, V.J.; Ribani, A.; Taurisano, V.; Banqué, C.H.i.; Fontanesi, L. Distribution of the Main Apis mellifera Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in Italy Assessed Using an Environmental DNA Approach. Insects 2021, 12, 620. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070620

AMA Style

Utzeri VJ, Ribani A, Taurisano V, Banqué CHi, Fontanesi L. Distribution of the Main Apis mellifera Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in Italy Assessed Using an Environmental DNA Approach. Insects. 2021; 12(7):620. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070620

Chicago/Turabian Style

Utzeri, Valerio J., Anisa Ribani, Valeria Taurisano, Carles H.i. Banqué, and Luca Fontanesi. 2021. "Distribution of the Main Apis mellifera Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in Italy Assessed Using an Environmental DNA Approach" Insects 12, no. 7: 620. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070620

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