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Honeybee's gene map published

The draft sequence of the honeybee genome is being made available to researchers over the Internet, the National Human Genome Research Institute says.
In addition to producing honey, the honeybee plays a key role in pollination.
In addition to producing honey, the honeybee plays a key role in pollination.Sandia National Laboratories / Sandia National Laboratories
/ Source: Reuters

The honeybee has joined the growing collection of animals whose gene maps are available for anyone to see, researchers said Wednesday.

The draft sequence of the bee, known scientifically as Apis mellifera, is published on the Internet for researchers in biology and agriculture to use, the National Human Genome Research Institute reported.

The sequence shows that the bee genome is about one-tenth the size of the human genome, containing about 300 million DNA base pairs, or matching rungs on the ladderlike double helix that makes up DNA.

Now scientists have to decide where specific genes lie in all this information, and what they do.

Among the many databases where the sequence can be found is GenBank. Richard Gibbs of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston led the effort.

The honeybee, which not only produces honey but serves as a key link in plant pollination, is studied by biologists keen on finding out about human health issues such as allergies. The insect’s social behavior is also of interest.