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Pemphigus bursarius is an occasional pest of agriculture with an annual life cycle that alternates between sexual reproduction on black poplars (Populus nigra) and parthenogenetic reproduction on the root systems of various Compositae, including lettuce. In general, aphids exhibit low allozyme variability (e.g. Tomiuk & Wöhrmann 1980), possibly as a consequence of the response of parthenogenetic lineages to natural selection (Hales et al. 1997). Microsatellite loci are typically more variable than allozymes (Tautz 1989) and are likely to provide a more informative system for the study of aphid populations.