At present a complete mtDNA sequence has been reported for only two hymenopterans, the Old World honey bee,
Apis mellifera and the sawfly Perga condei. Among the bee group, the tribe Meliponini (stingless bees) has some distinction
due to its Pantropical distribution, great number of species and large importance as main pollinators in several
ecosystems, including the Brazilian rain forest. However few molecular studies have been conducted on this
group of bees and few sequence data from mitochondrial genomes have been described. In this project, we PCR
amplified and sequenced 78% of the mitochondrial genome of the stingless bee Melipona bicolor (Apidae,
Meliponini). The sequenced region contains all of the 13 mitochondrial protein-coding genes, 18 of 22 tRNA genes,
and both rRNA genes (one of them was partially sequenced). We also report the genome organization (gene content
and order), gene translation, genetic code, and other molecular features, such as base frequencies, codon usage,
gene initiation and termination. We compare these characteristics of M. bicolor to those of the mitochondrial genome
of A. mellifera and other insects. A highly biased A+T content is a typical characteristic of the A. mellifera mitochondrial
genome and it was even more extreme in that of M. bicolor. Length and compositional differences between M.
bicolor and A. mellifera genes were detected and the gene order was compared. Eleven tRNA gene translocations
were observed between these two species. This latter finding was surprising, considering the taxonomic proximity of
these two bee tribes. The tRNALys gene translocation was investigated within Meliponini and showed high conservation
across the Pantropical range of the tribe.