• cytochrome oxidase I (COI);
  • internal transcribed spacer (ITS2);
  • intraspecific variation;
  • phylogeography;
  • tetranychid mites.

We compared patterns of intraspecific polymorphism of two markers with contrasted modes of evolution, nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), in the phytophagous mite Tetranychus urticae Koch. The second internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) of rDNA and a fragment in the mtDNA gene coding for Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI), were PCR-amplified and sequenced in samples of various geographical origins distributed worldwide. The 15 COI haplotypes found fell into two major phylogenetic lineages differing by an average of 5% nucleotide divergence. Samples from the Mediterranean basin were represented in both lineages, and showed no phylogeographical structure. The other samples, from temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, were clustered in one of the lineages and displayed little variation, indicating a recent colonization of this region. In contrast, no variation at all was found at the ITS2 in this species. We sequenced both COI and ITS2 in four other species of the genus Tetranychus and found that, despite the absence of intraspecific polymorphism, ITS appears to evolve 2.5 times faster than COI. We argue that rDNA homogeneity over the species range of T. urticae results from the high colonization potential of this species, preventing long-term differentiation. Preliminary data on two other mite species (Amphitetranychus viennensis Zacher and Mononychellus progresivus Doreste) with stricter ecological requirements and more restricted colonization potential revealed substantial and concordant geographical differentiation for both ITS2 and COI.