• Aphididae;
  • Sitobion avenae;
  • Metopolophium dirhodum;
  • DNA fingerprinting;
  • host preference;
  • genetic variation


Samples of the grain aphid Sitobion avenue (F.) and the rose-grain aphid Metopolophium dirhodum (Walker) were collected in late March from wheat fields and adjacent road-side grasses at a number of locations in southern England. Unparasitized aphids were DNA fingerprinted using the multilocus (GATA)4 probe. Over all locations, the fingerprints of individual S. avenue caught in wheat had lower overall average distances of band migration (ADBM) and shared a higher proportion of bands, than fingerprints of individuals caught in adjacent road-side grasses. The ADBM of fingerprints of S. avenue collected on road-side grasses altered significantly with geographical location, while the ADBM of fingerprints of S. avenue caught on wheat did not. A comparison of the fingerprints of individual M. dirhodum caught in wheat and neighbouring road-side grasses did not reveal any genetic differentiation. Fingerprints of M. dirhodum that were caught in the same host type did however, show significant variation in ADBM between different locations. With both S. avenue and M. dirhodum, spatial autocorrelation revealed that locations that were close together were no more likely to have individuals with similar ADBM than locations mat were far apart Our results suggest that (i) particular clones of S. avenue prefer to colonize wheat; and/or that (ii) particular clones of S. avenae perform better on wheat man other clones. It is unclear why M. dirhodum did not show any genetic structuring according to host type, but this species appears to engage in sexual reproduction much more frequently than S. avenae in southern England. M. dirhodum is likely to have displayed genetic heterogeneity between locations either because of founder effects, or because of genetic drift.