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Keywords:

  • Boophilus microplus;
  • bottleneck;
  • effective population size;
  • inbreeding;
  • isolation by distance;
  • parasite

Abstract

Since its immigration in the Pacific island of New Caledonia in 1942 (i.e. about 240 tick-generations ago), the cattle tick Boophilus microplus has experienced a remarkable adaptive diversification there. In order to better understand the population factors involved, we have investigated the B. microplus population structure on that main host-species, Bos taurus. This study was based microsatellite loci and confirmed that the island colonization came along with a significant bottleneck. Knowledge on B. microplus biology led us to expect B. microplus populations to be composed of highly inbred lineages irregularly dispatched among the individual hosts belonging to the same herds. Instead, this study evidenced a weak inbreeding level and an absence of genetic differentiation within herds. Complementarily, a significant signal of isolation by distance exhibited that human-traffic of cattle does not promote high tick dispersal within the island. Finally, the tick density was found to be about a few hundreds of reproducing adults per squared kilometre, for a gene dispersal range of about a few hundred metres per tick generation. Results are discussed with regard to the evolution of new adaptive changes.