Abstract

Restriction enzyme cleavage maps of mitochondrial DNA from the Spanish honeybee, Apis mellifera iberica (Hymenoptera: Apidae), were compared with those from the European subspecies A. m. mellifera, A. m. ligustica, and A. m. carnica, and the African subspecies A. m. intermissa and A. m. scutellata. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the two African subspecies can be distinguished by restriction fragment polymorphisms revealed by Hinf I digests. Two distinct mtDNA types were found among Spanish honeybees: a west European mellifera-like type, which predominates in the north of Spain, and an African intermissa-like type, which predominates in the south. Spain appears to be a region of contact and hybridization between the two subspecies A. m. intermissa and A. m. mellifera, which respectively represent African and west European honeybee lineages. This natural boundary between European and African honeybee populations in the Old World may provide a model for predicting the eventual outcome of the colonization of North America by introduced African honeybees.