Genetic differentiation in the winter pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa — wilkinsoni complex), inferred by AFLP and mitochondrial DNA markers

Authors

  • Paola Salvato,

    1. Dipartimento di Agronomia Ambientale e Produzioni Vegetali Entomologia, Agripolis, Università di Padova, Via Romea 16–35020 Legnaro PD Italy,
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  • Andrea Battisti,

    Corresponding author
    1. Dipartimento di Agronomia Ambientale e Produzioni Vegetali Entomologia, Agripolis, Università di Padova, Via Romea 16–35020 Legnaro PD Italy,
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  • Silvia Concato,

    1. Dipartimento di Agronomia Ambientale e Produzioni Vegetali Entomologia, Agripolis, Università di Padova, Via Romea 16–35020 Legnaro PD Italy,
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  • Luigi Masutti,

    1. Dipartimento di Agronomia Ambientale e Produzioni Vegetali Entomologia, Agripolis, Università di Padova, Via Romea 16–35020 Legnaro PD Italy,
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  • Tomaso Patarnello,

    1. Facoltà di Medicina Veterinaria Agripolis, Università di Padova, Via Romea 16–35020 Legnaro PD Italy,
    2. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Padova, Via G. Colombo 3–35121 Padova Italy
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  • Lorenzo Zane

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Padova, Via G. Colombo 3–35121 Padova Italy
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A. Battisti. Fax: +39 0498272810; E-mail: andrea.battisti@unipd.it

Abstract

The winter pine processionary moth has become an important pine pest in the last century, as a consequence of the spread of pine cultivation in the Mediterranean region. The pattern of genetic differentiation of this group, that includes two sibling species (Thaumetopoea pityocampa and Th. wilkinsoni), has been studied in nine populations using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and single strand conformation polymorphism-sequence analysis (SSCP) of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 (COI) and cytochrome oxydase 2 (COII). Results indicate the existence of strong genetic differentiation between the two species that became separated before the Quaternary ice ages. Moreover data indicate that Th. pityocampa has a strong geographical structure, particularly evident at the nuclear level, where all pairwise φST resulted to be highly significant and individuals from the same population resulted to be strongly clustered when an individual tree was reconstructed. The estimates of the absolute number of migrants between populations (Nm), obtained from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers, suggest that gene flow is low and that a gender-related dispersal could occur in this species. The males appear to disperse more than females, contributing to the genetic diversity of populations on a relatively wide range, reducing the risks of inbreeding and the genetic loss associated with bottlenecks occurring in isolated populations.

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