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    The genomes of two key bumblebee species with primitive eusocial organization

    Sadd, Ben M. and Barribeau, Seth M. and Bloch, Guy and de Graaf, Dirk C. and Dearden, Peter and Elsik, Christine G. and Gadau, Jürgen and Grimmelikhuijzen, Cornelis J.P. and Hasselmann, Martin and Lozier, Jeffrey D. and Robertson, Hugh M. and Smagghe, Guy and Stolle, Eckart and Van Vaerenbergh, Matthias and Waterhouse, Robert M. and Bornberg-Bauer, Erich and Klasberg, Steffen and Bennett, Anna K. and Câmara, Francisco and Guigó, Roderic and Hoff, Katharina and Mariotti, Marco and Munoz-Torres, Monica and Murphy, Terence and Santesmasses, Didac and Amdam, Gro V. and Beckers, Matthew and Beye, Martin and Biewer, Matthias and Bitondi, Márcia M.G. and Blaxter, Mark L. and Bourke, Andrew F.G. and Brown, Mark J.F. and Buechel, Severine D. and Cameron, Rossanah and Cappelle, Kaat and Carolan, James C. and Christiaens, Olivier and Ciborowski, Kate L. and Clarke, David F. and Colgan, Thomas J. and Collins, David H. and Cridge, Andrew G. and Dalmay, Tamas and Dreier, Stephanie and du Plessis, Louis and Duncan, Elizabeth and Erler, Silvio and Evans, Jay and Falcon, Tiago and Flores, Kevin and Freites, Flávia C.P. and Fuchikawa, Taro and Gempe, Tanja and Hartfelder, Klaus and Hauser, Frank and Helbing, Sophie and Humann, Fernanda C. and Irvine, Frano and Jermiin, Lars S. and Johnson, Claire E. and Johnson, Reed M. and Jones, Andrew K. and Kadowaki, Tatsuhiko and Kidner, Jonathan H. and Koch, Vasco and Köhler, Arian and Kraus, F. Bernhard and Lattorff, H. Michael and Leask, Megan and Lockett, Gabrielle A. and Mallon, Eamonn B. and Marco Antonio, David S. and Marxer, Monica and Meeus, Ivan and Moritz, Robin F.A. and Nair, Ajay and Näpflin, Kathrin and Nissen, Inga and Niu, Jinzhi and Nunes, Francis M.F. and Oakeshott, John G. and Osborne, Amy and Otte, Marianne and Pinheiro, Daniel and Rossié, Nina and Rueppell, Olav and Santos, Carolina G. and Schmid-Hempel, Regula and Schmitt, Björn D. and Scheulte, Christina and Simões, Zilá L.P. and Soares, Michelle P.M. and Swevers, Luc and Winnebeck, Eva C. and Wolschin, Florian and Yu, Na and Zdobnov, Evgeny M. and Aqrawi, Peshtewani K. and Blankenburg, Kerstin P. and Coyle, Marcus and Francisco, Liezl and Hernandez, Alvaro G. and Holder, Michael and Hudson, Matthew E. and Jackson, LaRonda and Jayaseelan, Joy and Joshi, Vandita and Kovar, Christie and Lee, Sandra L. and Mata, Robert and Mathew, Tittu and Newsham, Irene F. and Ngo, Robert and Okwuonu, Geoffrey and Pham, Christopher and Pu, Ling-Ling and Saada, Nehad and Santibanez, Jireh and Simmons, DeNard and Thornton, Rebecca and Venkat, Aarti and Walden, Kimberley K.O. and Wu, Yuan-Qing and Debyser, Griet and Devreese, Bart and Asher, Claire and Blommaert, Julie and Chipman, Ariel D. and Chittka, Lars and Fouks, Bertrand and Liu, Jisheng and O'Neill, Meaghan P. and Sumner, Seirian and Puiu, Daniela and Qu, Jiaxin and Salzberg, Steven L. and Scherer, Steven E. and Muzny, Donna M. and Richards, Stephen and Robinson, Gene E. and Gibbs, Richard A. and Schmid-Hempel, Paul and Worley, Kim C. (2015) The genomes of two key bumblebee species with primitive eusocial organization. Genome Biology, 16 (76). pp. 1-31. ISSN 1465-6906

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    Background: The shift from solitary to social behavior is one of the major evolutionary transitions. Primitively eusocial bumblebees are uniquely placed to illuminate the evolution of highly eusocial insect societies. Bumblebees are also invaluable natural and agricultural pollinators, and there is widespread concern over recent population declines in some species. High-quality genomic data will inform key aspects of bumblebee biology, including susceptibility to implicated population viability threats. Results: We report the high quality draft genome sequences of Bombus terrestris and Bombus impatiens, two ecologically dominant bumblebees and widely utilized study species. Comparing these new genomes to those of the highly eusocial honeybee Apis mellifera and other Hymenoptera, we identify deeply conserved similarities, as well as novelties key to the biology of these organisms. Some honeybee genome features thought to underpin advanced eusociality are also present in bumblebees, indicating an earlier evolution in the bee lineage. Xenobiotic detoxification and immune genes are similarly depauperate in bumblebees and honeybees, and multiple categories of genes linked to social organization, including development and behavior, show high conservation. Key differences identified include a bias in bumblebee chemoreception towards gustation from olfaction, and striking differences in microRNAs, potentially responsible for gene regulation underlying social and other traits. Conclusions: These two bumblebee genomes provide a foundation for post-genomic research on these key pollinators and insect societies. Overall, gene repertoires suggest that the route to advanced eusociality in bees was mediated by many small changes in many genes and processes, and not by notable expansion or depauperation.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: © 2015 Sadd et al.; licensee BioMed Central. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
    Keywords: genomes; bumblebee; species; solitary behavior; social behavior; primitive eusocial organization; Apis mellifera; Bombus terrestris; Bombus impatiens;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Biology
    Item ID: 7168
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: James Carolan
    Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2016 15:31
    Journal or Publication Title: Genome Biology
    Publisher: BioMed Central
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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