• adaptive divergence;
  • AFLP;
  • host-plant specialization;
  • Ostrinia spp.;
  • population genomics


It has recently been shown that the European corn borer, a major pest of maize crops, is actually composed of two genetically differentiated and reproductively isolated taxa, which are found in sympatry over a wide geographical range in Eurasia. Each taxon is adapted to specific host plants: Ostrinia nubilalis feeds mainly on maize, while O. scapulalis feeds mainly on hop or mugwort. Here, we present a genome scan approach as a first step towards an integrated molecular analysis of the adaptive genomic divergence between O. nubilalis and O. scapulalis. We analysed 609 AFLP marker loci in replicate samples of sympatric populations of Ostrinia spp. collected on maize, hop and mugwort, in France. Using two genome scan methods based on the analysis of population differentiation, we found a set of 28 outlier loci that departed from the neutral expectation in one or the other method (of which a subset of 14 loci were common to both methods), which showed a significantly increased differentiation between Onubilalis and O. scapulalis, when compared to the rest of the genome. A subset of 12 outlier loci were sequenced, of which 7 were successfully re-amplified as target candidate loci. Three of these showed homology with annotated lepidopteran sequences from public nucleotide databases.