Studies on the taxonomy of honeybees in the Sudan

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Omer, Elhadi Adam
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A thorough morphometrical and some molecular genetic studies (Mitochondrial DNA) were carried out on the most common honeybees in the Sudan. These so far contribute in the identification of the Sudanese honeybees. Nineteen samples of honeybee workers Apis mellifera L. were collected from four different geographical zones of the Sudan. Four samples of the small Asian bee workers Apis florea obtained from Gerry, Khartoum, Madani and El-Dender were also included in the study. Biometric measurements and analysis were performed for all the samples. The 19 colonies were subjected to morphometric measurements plus another 8 different samples of Apis mellifera L. were further subjected to Mitochondrial DNA investigation and analysis. Results were compared with those of the biometric study. The morphometric statistical analysis of the nineteen samples revealed a wide range of differences in most discriminant characters among the samples. In the principal component analysis (PCA), three clusters were graphically formed. Furthermore, the presence of these three clusters was confirmed by some modern discriminant analysis methods, and they were geographically correlated. The cluster with the smallest measurements of some discriminant characters originated from the forest zone. Its average measurements were as follows: forewing length 8.23 mm., width 2.82 mm.; proboscis length 5.55 mm.; hind-leg length 6.83 mm.; body size (T3+ T4) 3.88 mm., and cubital index 1.85 mm. The second cluster with medium measurements of some discriminant characters, originated from the semi-desert zone. Its mean average measurements were as follows: forewing length 8.27 mm., width 2.88 mm.; proboscis length 5.63 mm.; hind-leg length 7.00 mm.; body size (T3+ T4) 3.88 mm.; and cubital index 2.04 mm. The third cluster, with the highest measurements of some discriminant characters, originated from the savannah zone; mainly towords the border with Ethiopia. Its average measurements were as follows: forewing length 8.45 mm., width 2.95 mm.; proboscis length 5.59 mm.; hind-leg 7.05 mm.; body size (T3+ T4) 4.00 mm., and comparatively the highest cubital index of 2.24 mm. Comparison between the 19 Sudanese honeybees samples and 242 banck samples (data banck, Institute für Bienenkunde, Oberursel, Germany from a neighbouring countries) was done using PCA. The three clusters of the Sudanese bees were like-wise distinguishable as subclusters. The same results were also confirmed by the discriminant analysis. Therefore, the smallest bees of Sudan were identified as Apis mellifera sudanesis instead of Apis mellifera yemenitica which represent the bees of the forest zone. The medium sized bees were identified as Apis mellifera yemenitica instead of sudanesis., representing the semi-desert zone bees, while the bigest bees retained the name Apis mellifera bandasii., representing the Savannah zone bees. The measurement of genetic variation in the Sudanese honeybees Apis mellifera L., at the mitochondrial DNA level of the 27 samples revealed the present of sex different haplotypes. The cluster with the smallest measurements (forest zone colonies) had only haplotype A1 representing 100% of the whole measured colonies; the medium cluster (semi-desert zone colonies) posses two different haplotypes O1 and Y2 with percentages 75% and 25% respectively from the whole measured colonies of the zone, while the cluster of highest measurements (savannah zone) showed four different haplotypes, O1, O1`, A2 and A4, representing 54%, 13%, 13% and 20% respectively. These results partially confirmed the biometric measurements of the PCA and discriminant analysis. The current study represent the first record on the classification of the Sudanese honeybees according to mitochondrial DNA variability. The present study suggest that, the presence of the gene flow among the Sudanese bees in the southern part of the semi-desert zone and almost all the savannah zone of the Sudan is a result of heterogeneous blood mixture between the Sudanese bees and the Ethiopian bees in the border between the two countries and the gene flow direction might be from the low land of the savannah zone of Ethiopia towards the western part of the Sudan in the area between latitudes 9º N and 15º N. Also this study suggests that the origin haplotype of the Sudanese bees is A1 and the pure Sudanese bees might be the south Sudan race (A. m. sudanesis). The four Apis florea samples were also treated by PCA and discriminant analysis, the results obtained so far revealed that, colonies are not very distinct indicating that, all of these colonies were similar and originally they were descendent of the first recorded colony of Apis florea in Khartoum in 1985. Treatment of the four Sudanese Florea samples together with 6 Florea colonies of different origins [2 from Sudan “Moggas ones” and 4 from the data bank, Institute fur Bienenkunde-Oberursel-Germany (Mogga 1988)], by cluster column analysis (which compare values across categories); revealed that, the four target Florea samples of Sudan might be brought from Pakistan or South Iran.
University of khartoum