Entomology, Department of



Population genetic structure of the lettuce root aphid, Pemphigus bursarius (L.), in relation to geographic distance, gene flow and host plant usage


Nicholas Miller

Date of this Version



Published in Heredity (2003) 91, 217–223. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800331

Copyright © 2003 The Genetics Society; published by Nature Publishing Group.



Microsatellite markers were used to examine the population structure of Pemphigus bursarius, a cyclically parthenogenetic aphid. Substantial allele frequency differences were observed between populations on the primary host plant (collected shortly after sexual reproduction) separated by distances as low as 14 km. This suggested that migratory movements occur over relatively short distances in this species. However, the degree of allele frequency divergence between populations was not correlated with their geographical separation, indicating that isolation by distance was not the sole cause of spatial genetic structuring. Significant excesses of homozygotes were observed in several populations. Substantial allele frequency differences were also found between aphids on the primary host and those sampled from a secondary host plant after several parthenogenetic generations at the same location in two successive years. This could have been due to the existence of obligately parthenogenetic lineages living on the secondary host or genetically divergent populations confined to different secondary host plant species but sharing a common primary host.