Seed World

Researchers Sequence Two Bumblebee Genomes

Two research articles published in the journal Genome Biology present the first genome sequences and analyses of two key bumblebee species: the European buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, and the North American common eastern bumblebee, Bombus impatiens.
The research focused on identifying similarities and differences between these transatlantic cousins, using bees from Thurgau, Switzerland, and Michigan. The studies also compared them with their more distant relatives, the honeybees, to understand their different social colony lifestyles and how they fight off infections.
Both studies involved large international collaborations and included researchers from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, the University of Geneva Medical School and ETH Zurich’s Institute of Integrative Biology. The projects were coordinated by Ben Sadd from Illinois State University, Seth Barribeau from ETH Zurich and East Carolina University, Kim Worley from the Baylor College of Medicine, and Paul Schmid-Hempel from ETH Zurich.
The genomes of these Swiss and American bumblebees provide the first insights into the genetics behind the differences in their behaviors and responses to their environments, researchers say.