Background: The honey bee is a key model for social behavior and this feature led to the selection of the species for genome sequencing. A genetic map is a necessary companion to the sequence. In addition, because there was originally no physical map for the honey bee genome project, a meiotic map was the only resource for organizing the sequence assembly on the chromosomes.
Results: We present the genetic (meiotic) map here and describe the main features that emerged from comparison with the sequence-based physical map. The genetic map of the honey bee is saturated and the chromosomes are oriented from the centromeric to the telomeric regions. The map is based on 2,008 markers and is about 40 Morgans (M) long, resulting in a marker density of one every 2.05 centiMorgans (cM). For the 186 megabases (Mb) of the genome mapped and assembled, this corresponds to a very high average recombination rate of 22.04 cM/Mb. Honey bee meiosis shows a relatively homogeneous recombination rate along and across chromosomes, as well as within and between individuals. Interference is higher than inferred from the Kosambi function of distance. In addition, numerous recombination hotspots are dispersed over the genome.
Conclusion: The very large genetic length of the honey bee genome, its small physical size and an almost complete genome sequence with a relatively low number of genes suggest a very promising future for association mapping in the honey bee, particularly as the existence of haploid males allows easy bulk segregant analysis.