Researchers studying the bumblebee genome have identified genes that are thought to help overcome environmental problems such as climate change.
The study, led by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London, genome To understand how the sequence of Bombus terrestris, one of the most prevalent species in Europe, adapts to the dramatic environmental changes faced by the recent evolutionary era. Thing.
The team searched the genome to find out which parts were replaced by the new version in recent decades. This is the term researchers call “signature of choice.” They found signs of recent changes to the genome in areas known to be associated with the development of the nervous system and wings.
Researchers suggest that these genetic changes are likely to have improved the ability of bumblebees to feed more in response to increased habitat fragmentation and climate change.Results will be published in the journal Molecular Biology & Evolution..
Bumblebees and other insects are important natural pollinators of crops and wildflowers.Recent studies have shown that habitat loss, diseases, pesticides, and Climate change As a factor. However, some of these pollen maters, such as Bombus terrestris, are doing well despite changing environmental conditions.
Dr. Richard Gill of Imperial’s Faculty of Life Sciences (Silwood Park), co-author of this study, said:
“Understanding the reaction of pollen maters of insects such as bees relied on previously recorded sightings, but these are always due to the sparse and non-standardized method of historical records. Not always reliable, but the genome provides an effective diary of how the population reacts.
“By studying these genetic changes, we can better understand why some species are superior to others and which environmental pressures are the main reason they can inform mitigation strategies. You can understand.”
The lead author of the study, Dr. Yannick Wurm of Queen Mary University of London and the Alan Turing Institute, said: .. ”
“Simultaneous analysis of many genomes of Bombus terrestris sheds new light on the health of this species. This species is well underway and most genomes have widespread genetic diversity and it. It turns out that it has the ability to use. These properties continue to adapt to the challenges this species is facing. “
Tools to protect
Interestingly, the researchers also Bumblebee A genome containing a region containing 53 genes lacking diversity found in the rest of the genome.
Dr. Thomas Kolgan, the first author of a study at Queen Mary University of London, said: Bumblebees and their relatives, honeybees.
“We are completely unaware of the evolutionary reasons for the patterns observed in this region of the genome, nor how they affect the adaptability of the species.”
The findings provide important insights into the ability of major pollen maters to adapt and emphasize the benefits of genomic approaches to understanding the genetic health of wild populations. Researchers suggest that this type of approach may help develop tools to protect beneficial insects that are critical to ecosystem stability, biodiversity maintenance, and crop productivity. increase.
Dr. Worm added: “There are more than 1,500 beneficial pollen maters in the UK, including many species of bees. Applying the genomic approach developed here to other pollen maters will help identify them. Race It is the most endangered and informs the development of custom-made conservation and mitigation strategies. ”
Genome signature of recent adaptations in wild bumblebees, including Thomas J. Kolgan, Molecular Biology and Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1093 / molbev / msab366
Imperial College London
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Genes identified that may help bumblebees adapt to environmental changes
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