Structured populations of the oriental fruit moth in an agricultural ecosystem


Dominique Mazzi, Fax: +41 44 632 11 71; E-mail:


Intercontinental trade has led to multiple introductions of invasive pest species at a global scale. Molecular analyses of the structure of populations support the understanding of ecological strategies and evolutionary patterns that promote successful biological invasions. The oriental fruit moth, Grapholita (=Cydia) molesta, is a cosmopolitan and economically destructive pest of stone and pome fruits, expanding its distribution range concomitantly with global climate warming. We used ten newly developed polymorphic microsatellite markers to examine the genetic structure of G. molesta populations in an agricultural ecosystem in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Larvae collected in eight sampling sites were assigned to a mosaic of five populations with significant intra-regional structure. Inferred measures of gene flow within populations implicated both active dispersal, and passive dispersal associated with accidental anthropogenic displacements. Small effective population sizes, coupled with high inbreeding levels, highlighted the effect of orchard management practices on the observed patterns of genetic variation within the sampling sites. Isolation by distance did not appear to play a major role at the spatial scale considered. Our results provide new insights into the population genetics and dynamics of an invasive pest species at a regional scale.