Phylogeography of a parasitoid wasp (Diaeretiella rapae): no evidence of host-associated lineages


Michael F. Antolin. Fax: + 1-970-491-0649; E-mail:


The exceptional diversity of insects is often attributed to the effects of specialized relationships between insects and their hosts. Parasite–host interactions are influenced by current natural selection and dispersal, in addition to historical effects that may include past selection, vicariance, and random genetic drift. Both current and historical events can lead to reduced fitness on some hosts. If trade-offs in fitness on alternate hosts are common, adaptation to one host can prevent adaptation to another, giving rise to genetic differentiation among host-associated lineages. Previous studies of Diaeretiella rapae (Hymenoptera: Aphidiidae), a parasitoid of aphids, have revealed additive genetic differences in performance between populations that parasitize different aphid host species. To determine whether D. rapae populations collected from different aphid hosts have diverged into genetically independent lineages, we constructed a haplotype network based on sequence variation in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). We used single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis to examine 2041 base pairs of mtDNA and to identify nucleotide sequences of 42 unique SSCP haplotypes. We found no association between mtDNA haplotypes and host species in either the ancestral range (Europe, Mediterranean region, Middle East, Asia) or part of the introduced range (western North America). Haplotypes likely to be ancestral were geographically widespread and found on both hosts, suggesting that the ability to use both hosts evolved prior to the diversification of the mtDNA. Ongoing gene flow appears to prevent the formation of host races.