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Complete Sequence of Endangered Rusty Patched Bumblebee Genome

Researchers have sequenced the genome of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, Bombus affinis, which could aid in the bees' conservation. These bees currently face the risk of extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, and large declines in population size. In a study appearing in G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics researchers from US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service detail the chromosome-scale whole-genome sequence from a single haploid male bee that was generated using Pacific Biosciences HiFi sequencing and HiC sequencing. The techniques helped the researchers resolve the 18 bee chromosomes distributed across the 365.1 Mb assembly. "With the amount of detailed information that we and other researchers now have access to in this newly sequenced genome, we have an opportunity to find a whole different approach to strengthening rusty patched bumblebee populations," first author Jonathan Uhaud Koch, a researcher with ARS, says in a statement. Meanwhile, even though researchers have long known that these bees get infected by the fungal pathogen Vairimorpha bombi, they were surprised that nearly 4.5 percent of the sequenced DNA from the bee came from Microsporidia, the fungal group that includes V. bombi. "It demonstrates how pervasive the pathogen is," Koch notes.