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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Signals of adaptation to agricultural stress in the genomes of two European bumblebees

Hart, Alex F.; Verbeeck, Jaro; Ariza, Daniel; Cejas, Diego; Ghisbain, Guillaume; Honchar, Hanna; Radchenko, Vladimir G.; Straka, Jakub; Ljubomirov, Toshko; Lecocq, Thomas; Daniel-Ferreira, Juliana; Flaminio, Simone; Bortolotti, Laura; Karise, Reet; Meeus, Ivan; Smagghe, Guy; Vereecken, Nicolas; Vandamme, Peter; Michez, Denis; Maebe, Kevin


Human-induced environmental impacts on wildlife are widespread, causing major biodiversity losses. One major threat is agricultural intensification, typically characterised by large areas of monoculture, mechanical tillage, and the use of agrochemicals. Intensification leads to the fragmentation and loss of natural habitats, native vegetation, and nesting and breeding sites. Understanding the adaptability of insects to these changing environmental conditions is critical to predicting their survival. Bumblebees, key pollinators of wild and cultivated plants, are used as model species to assess insect adaptation to anthropogenic stressors. We investigated the effects of agricultural pressures on two common European bumblebees, Bombus pascuorum and B. lapidarius. Restriction-site Associated DNA Sequencing was used to identify loci under selective pressure across agricultural-natural gradients over 97 locations in Europe. 191 unique loci in B. pascuorum and 260 in B. lapidarius were identified as under selective pressure, and associated with agricultural stressors. Further investigation suggested several candidate proteins including several neurodevelopment, muscle, and detoxification proteins, but these have yet to be validated. These results provide insights into agriculture as a stressor for bumblebees, and signal for conservation action in light of ongoing anthropogenic changes.


Bombus; global change; RADseq; population genomics; agricultural intensification; bee decline; Anthropocene

Published in

Frontiers in Genetics
2022, volume: 13, article number: 993416

Authors' information

Hart, Alex F.
Ghent University
Verbeeck, Jaro
Ghent University
Ariza, Daniel
Ghent University
Cejas, Diego
University of Mons
Ghisbain, Guillaume
University of Mons
Ghisbain, Guillaume
Smithsonian Institution
Honchar, Hanna
National Academy of Sciences Ukraine
Radchenko, Vladimir G.
National Academy of Sciences Ukraine
Straka, Jakub
Charles University Prague
Ljubomirov, Toshko
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Lecocq, Thomas
Universite de Lorraine
Dániel Ferreira, Juliana (Dániel-Ferreira, Juliana)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Flaminio, Simone
Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e L'analisi Dell'economia Agraria (CREA)
Bortolotti, Laura
Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e L'analisi Dell'economia Agraria (CREA)
Karise, Reet
Estonian University of Life Sciences
Meeus, Ivan
Ghent University
Smagghe, Guy
Ghent University
Vereecken, Nicolas
Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Vandamme, Peter
Ghent University
Michez, Denis
University of Mons

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research
Animal and Dairy Science

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