, Volume 126, Issue 3, pp 353-368

Diversity of Boll Weevil Populations in South America: A Phylogeographic Approach

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A phylogeographic approach was conducted to assess the geographic structure and genetic variation in populations of the boll weevil Anthonomus grandis, which is the most harmful insect pest of cotton in the Americas. COI and COII mitochondrial gene sequences were analyzed to test a former hypothesis on the origin of the boll weevil in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, using samples from Mexico and USA as putative source populations. The analysis of variability suggests that populations from South American cotton fields and nearby disturbed areas form a phylogroup with a central haplotype herein called A, which is the most common and widespread in USA and South America. The population from Texas has the A haplotype as the most frequent and gathers in the same group as the South American populations associated with cotton. The sample from Tecomán (México) shows high values of within-nucleotide divergence, shares no haplotype in common with the South American samples, and forms a phylogroup separated by several mutational steps. The sample from Iguazú National Park (Misiones Province, Argentina) has similar characteristics, with highly divergent haplotypes forming a phylogroup closer to the samples from cotton fields, than to the Mexican group. We propose that in South America there are: populations with characteristics of recent invaders, which would be remnants of “bottlenecks” that occurred after single or multiple colonization events, probably from the United States, and ancient populations associated with native forests, partially isolated by events of historical fragmentation.