Hierarchical genetic structure of the introduced wasp Vespula germanica in Australia

Authors

  • Michael A. D. Goodisman,

    1. Department of Genetics, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC, 3083, Australia and Department of Zoology and Tropical Ecology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, 4811, Australia,
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      ‡Present address: c/o Dr Wells Lab-Department of Biochemistry, Biological Sciences West, PO Box 210088, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0088, USA. Fax: 520-621-9288; E-mail:
  • Robert W. Matthews,

    1. Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602, USA
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  • Ross H. Crozier

    1. Department of Genetics, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC, 3083, Australia and Department of Zoology and Tropical Ecology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, 4811, Australia,
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Michael A. D. Goodisman. ‡Present address: c/o Dr Wells Lab-Department of Biochemistry, Biological Sciences West, PO Box 210088, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0088, USA. Fax: 520-621-9288; E-mail:goodisma@email.arizona.edu

Abstract

The wasp Vespula germanica is a highly successful invasive pest. This study examined the population genetic structure of V. germanica in its introduced range in Australia. We sampled 1320 workers and 376 males from 141 nests obtained from three widely separated geographical areas on the Australian mainland and one on the island of Tasmania. The genotypes of all wasps were assayed at three polymorphic DNA microsatellite markers. Our analyses uncovered significant allelic differentiation among all four V. germanica populations. Pairwise estimates of genetic divergence between populations agreed with the results of a model-based clustering algorithm which indicated that the Tasmanian population was particularly distinct from the other populations. Within-population analyses revealed that genetic similarity declined with spatial distance, indicating that wasps from nests separated by more than ~25 km belonged to separate mating pools. We suggest that the observed genetic patterns resulted from frequent bottlenecks experienced by the V. germanica populations during their colonization of Australia.

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