Mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) partial sequences are widely used in taxonomy for species identification. Increasingly, these sequence identities are combined with modelling approaches to delineate species. Yet the validity of species delineation based on such DNA ‘barcodes’ is rarely tested and may be called into question by phenomena such as ancestral polymorphisms in DNA sequences, phylogeographic divergence, mitochondrial introgression and hybridization, or distortion of mitochondrial inheritance through such factors as Wolbachia infection. The common and widespread European bumble bee Bombus lucorum s. lato contains three distinct mitochondrial DNA lineages that are assumed to represent three cryptic species, namely Bombus cryptarum, B. lucorum s. str. and B. magnus. To test whether nuclear gene pools of the three putative species were differentiated, we genotyped 304 sympatric members of the lucorum complex (54 B. cryptarum females, 168 B. lucorum s. str. Females and 82 B. magnus females, as defined using mtDNA COI haplotypes) from 11 localities spread across the island of Ireland at seven nuclear microsatellite loci. Multilocus genotypes clustered into three discrete groups that largely corresponded to the three mtDNA lineages: B. cryptarum, B. lucorum s. str. and B. magnus. The good fit of mitochondrial haplotype to nuclear (microsatellite) genotypic data supports the view that these three bumble bee taxa are reproductively isolated species, as well as providing a vindication of species identity using so-called DNA barcodes.
McKendrick, L., Provan, J., Murray, T., Brown, M. J. F., Paxton, R., & Fitzpatrick, Ú. (2017). Microsatellite analysis supports the existence of three cryptic species within the bumble bee Bombus lucorum sensu lato. Conservation Genetics, 573-584. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-017-0965-3