Entomology, Department of


Host-associated populations in the lettuce root aphid, Pemphigus bursarius (L.)


Nicholas Miller

Date of this Version



Published in Heredity (2005) 94, 556–564. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800658 Published online 23 March 2005. Copyright © 2005 The Genetics Society; published by Nature Publishing Group.


Pemphigus bursarius is a host-alternating aphid in which annual rounds of sexual reproduction on its primary host, Populus nigra, are interspersed with parthenogenesis on a range of secondary hosts. Evidence was sought for the existence of genetically distinct populations, associated with different secondary hosts, in P. bursarius. Microsatellite markers revealed that genetically distinct populations were present on three different secondary host species. Microsatellites were also used, in conjunction with mitochondrial DNA sequence variation, to investigate the relationships between aphids on Populus, following sexual reproduction, and those on the secondary hosts. Evidence was found for a distinct, cyclically parthenogenetic population that exploited Lactuca sativa as its secondary host. In contrast, populations associated with Matricaria inodora appeared to be largely composed of obligate parthenogens or may even have been another species of Pemphigus. Populations on Lapsana communis appeared to be a mixture of cyclical and obligate parthenogens and were more genetically heterogeneous than those on other secondary hosts, possibly due to founder effects. Experiments to measure the performance of P. bursarius clones on different secondary hosts were inconclusive, failing to demonstrate either the presence or absence of adaptations to secondary hosts.