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Population structure and colonization history of the olive fly, Bactrocera oleae (Diptera, Tephritidae)


Francesco Nardi, Fax: +39-0577-234476; E-mail:


The olive fly, Bactrocera oleae, is the major pest of olives in most commercial olive-growing regions worldwide. The species is abundant in the Mediterranean basin and has been introduced recently into California and Mexico, creating problems for quarantine protection and international trade. Here, we use nuclear microsatellite markers and mitochondrial sequences to examine the history of olive fly range expansion and colonization. Sampled populations span the current distribution of the olive fly worldwide, including South and Central Africa, Pakistan, Mediterranean Europe and Middle East, California, and Mexico. The Pakistani populations appear to be genetically well differentiated from the remaining populations, though rooting the origins of the species is problematic. Genetic similarity and assignment tests cluster the remaining populations into two genetic groups — Africa and a group including the Mediterranean basin and the American region. That Africa, and not the Mediterranean, is the origin of flies infesting cultivated olive is supported by the significantly greater genetic diversity at microsatellite loci in Africa relative to the Mediterranean area. The results also indicate that the recent invasion of olive flies in the American region most likely originated from the Mediterranean area.