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Keywords:

  • AFLP;
  • biodiversity;
  • genetic structure;
  • host races;
  • interaction;
  • hybridization;
  • radiation;
  • sympatric speciation;
  • Wolbachia

Differences in quality and quantity of secondary compounds, as well as in leaf traits of host plants, may influence the host choice of herbivores. Different host preferences could lead to host-associated differentiation, the first step of sympatric speciation. In the present study, we investigated whether the rose gall wasp Diplolepis rosae L. (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) shows genetic differentiation related to its host plants (Rosa canina L., Rosa corymbifera Borkh., and Rosa rubiginosa L.). These three host species radiated recently and subsequently expanded their range. Therefore, we expected a diversification within the closely-associated phytophagous insects. The process of genetic differentiation should be intensified in D. rosae by its close relationship to the host plant, as well as by its parthenogenetic reproduction (infection rate by Wolbachia sp. of almost 100%). However, using 106 polymorphic amplified fragment length polymorphism markers, we found no genetic differentiation among the wasps from different host plants. The population structuring between geographical localities was also low, suggesting considerable gene flow between sites. In part, the low genetic differentiation between sites is explained by the wide distribution of host species and hybrids between host plants. Hybrids with intermediate traits may facilitate the gene flow between wasp populations exploiting different host species. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 102, 369–377.