Genus-Wide Characterization of Bumblebee Genomes Provides Insights into Their Evolution and Variation in Ecological and Behavioral Traits

Sun, Cheng, Huang, Jiaxing, Wang, Yun, Zhao, Xiaomeng, Su, Long, Thomas, Gregg WC, Zhao, Mengya, Zhang, Xingtan, Jungreis, Irwin, Kellis, Manolis
et al (show 36 more authors) (2021) Genus-Wide Characterization of Bumblebee Genomes Provides Insights into Their Evolution and Variation in Ecological and Behavioral Traits. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 38 (2). pp. 486-501.

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Bumblebees are a diverse group of globally important pollinators in natural ecosystems and for agricultural food production. With both eusocial and solitary life-cycle phases, and some social parasite species, they are especially interesting models to understand social evolution, behavior, and ecology. Reports of many species in decline point to pathogen transmission, habitat loss, pesticide usage, and global climate change, as interconnected causes. These threats to bumblebee diversity make our reliance on a handful of well-studied species for agricultural pollination particularly precarious. To broadly sample bumblebee genomic and phenotypic diversity, we de novo sequenced and assembled the genomes of 17 species, representing all 15 subgenera, producing the first genus-wide quantification of genetic and genomic variation potentially underlying key ecological and behavioral traits. The species phylogeny resolves subgenera relationships, whereas incomplete lineage sorting likely drives high levels of gene tree discordance. Five chromosome-level assemblies show a stable 18-chromosome karyotype, with major rearrangements creating 25 chromosomes in social parasites. Differential transposable element activity drives changes in genome sizes, with putative domestications of repetitive sequences influencing gene coding and regulatory potential. Dynamically evolving gene families and signatures of positive selection point to genus-wide variation in processes linked to foraging, diet and metabolism, immunity and detoxification, as well as adaptations for life at high altitudes. Our study reveals how bumblebee genes and genomes have evolved across the Bombus phylogeny and identifies variations potentially linked to key ecological and behavioral traits of these important pollinators.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bombus, insect diversity, genome assembly, genome evolution, gene family evolution
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 25 May 2021 09:29
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 22:44
DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa240
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