Maintenance of genetic diversity among breeding lines is important in selective breeding and stock management. The Russian Honey Bee Breeding Program has strived to maintain high levels of heterozygosity among its breeding lines since its inception in 1997. After numerous rounds of selection for resistance to tracheal and varroa mites and improved honey production, 18 lines were selected as the core of the program. These lines were grouped into three breeding blocks that were crossbred to improve overall heterozygosity levels of the population. Microsatellite DNA data demonstrated that the program has been successful. Heterozygosity and allelic richness values are high and there are no indications of inbreeding among the three blocks. There were significant levels of genetic structure measured among the three blocks. Block C was genetically distinct from both blocks A and B (FST = 0.0238), whereas blocks A and B did not differ from each other (FST = 0.0074). The same pattern was seen for genic (based on numbers of alleles) differentiation. Genetic distance, as measured by chord distance, indicates that all of the 18 lines are equally distant, with minimal clustering. The data indicate that the overall design of the breeding program has been successful in maintaining high levels of diversity and avoiding problems associated with inbreeding.
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Vol. 102 • No. 3