Article open access publication

A soft selective sweep during rapid evolution of gentle behaviour in an Africanized honeybee

Nature Communications, Springer Nature, ISSN 2041-1723

Volume 8, 1, 2017

DOI:10.1038/s41467-017-01800-0, Dimensions: pub.1092638692, PMC: PMC5688081, PMID: 29142254,



  1. (1) University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, grid.35403.31
  2. (2) Kunming Institute of Zoology, grid.419010.d
  3. (3) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  4. (4) Beijing Genomics Institute, grid.21155.32
  5. (5) University of Puerto Rico System, grid.267033.3


Highly aggressive Africanized honeybees (AHB) invaded Puerto Rico (PR) in 1994, displacing gentle European honeybees (EHB) in many locations. Gentle AHB (gAHB), unknown anywhere else in the world, subsequently evolved on the island within a few generations. Here we sequence whole genomes from gAHB and EHB populations, as well as a North American AHB population, a likely source of the founder AHB on PR. We show that gAHB retains high levels of genetic diversity after evolution of gentle behaviour, despite selection on standing variation. We observe multiple genomic loci with significant signatures of selection. Rapid evolution during colonization of novel habitats can generate major changes to characteristics such as morphological or colouration traits, usually controlled by one or more major genetic loci. Here we describe a soft selective sweep, acting at multiple loci across the genome, that occurred during, and may have mediated, the rapid evolution of a behavioural trait.


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