Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Drone sources and their contributions to genetic gain in honey bee (SimDRONE)

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.02.01  Biotechnical sciences  Animal production  Genetics and selection 

Code Science Field
4.02  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Animal and Dairy science 
selection, honey bee, drones, genetic gain, breeding value, simulation
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (12)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  53292  Jernej Bubnič  Animal production  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024  55 
2.  24769  PhD Gregor Gorjanc  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2024  497 
3.  56305  Manca Kojek    Technical associate  2022 - 2024 
4.  55567  Andraž Marinč    Technical associate  2021 - 2024  27 
5.  55535  Katarina Mole    Technical associate  2021 - 2024  14 
6.  30770  PhD Ajda Moškrič  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  56 
7.  38985  PhD Jana Obšteter  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2024  70 
8.  16055  Peter Podgoršek  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2024  260 
9.  23608  PhD Janez Prešern  Biology  Head  2020 - 2024  215 
10.  28180  PhD Mojca Simčič  Animal production  Researcher  2023  422 
11.  28877  PhD Maja Ivana Smodiš Škerl  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2024  266 
12.  56413  Špela Zarnik    Technical associate  2022 - 2024 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0401  Agricultural institute of Slovenia  Ljubljana  5055431  20,206 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  67,269 
In breeding, controlled mating is imperative for management and improvement of a population, and honeybees are no exception. Honeybees, however, differ from other human-managed populations in i) how much control a beekeeper has over their mating, in ii) ploidy - queens and workers are diploid, while drones are haploid, in iii) the fact that queens get mated once in a lifetime and in iv) polyandry of queens – queens mate with 10 – 20 drones, keeping their sperm in spermatheca for life. All these differences should be taken into account in all honeybee-related breeding activities. Mating control in honeybees is difficult to implement, especially in areas with extremely high apiary and colony density, a common situation in many European countries. Isolated mating stations, providing controlled mating, are normally set up on islands or deep alpine valleys to guarantee presence of drown from known sources only. Recent reports of reappearance of feral honeybee colonies in forests swipes questions the general assumption of absolute isolation of continental mating stations in areas without managed colonies. Outside the scope of island mating stations, it seems that instrumental insemination is the only other method providing full control over mate selection, yet it is technically more demanding and is in used only for a small fraction of pedigree queens. Success of selection in modern breeding programs success depends largely on and reliability of estimated breeding values are based on i) data completeness and ii) data accuracy of pedigree or genomic and phenotypic data. Open mating (i.e. uncontrolled mating) is the most common form of mating in honeybees, which yet this type of mating prevents tracking of any paternal data. Similar situation is the case of non-isolated mating station: there is no information about the prevalence of drones of known origin/pedigree despite the presence of drone colonies with selected pedigree. Such incomplete or even erroneous datasets decreases reliability of estimation of estimated breeding values and consequently the genetic gain. Simultaneously they impair also the evaluation of relatedness and inbreeding in a population, which limits management of genetic diversity. This project proposal addresses some of these questions by developing new breeding methods and testing them through simulation and field work. Specifically, in this proposal i) We will take existing concepts, methodology and software for the use for estimation of breeding values and expand them for certain specifics of honey bee reproductive biology; ii) We will estimate the prevalence of drones of known and unknown origin in semi-isolated Alpine valley and open flat land of central Slovenia to observe change in the fraction of drones of specific origins with increasing distance from our drone colonies at the mating apiary; iii) simulator developed in i) and data obtained in ii) will be used to evaluate the reliability of prediction of estimating breeding values with various percentage of drones of known pedigree along the estimation of breeding values and genetic variability in comparison to situation with two or more paternal lines present in mating stations; and iv) We will develop a spatial model for the estimation of breeding values in honeybees. Results of the project will be both important scientific novelty and directly applicable for to breeding programs in Europe and outside of EU, including our domestic breeding program.
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