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Resolving multiple host use of an emergent pest of cotton with microsatellite data and chloroplast markers (Creontiades dilutus Stål; Hemiptera, Miridae)

  • James P. Hereward (a1) (a2), Paul J. DeBarro (a3) and Gimme H. Walter (a1)

Following the global uptake of transgenic cotton several Hemipteran pests have emerged as primary targets for pesticide control. Previous research on one such emergent pest: the green mirid, Creontiades dilutus, indicated differential use of two crop hosts, cotton (Gossypium hirsutum, Malvaceae) and lucerne (alfalfa) (Medicago sativa, Fabaceae). We tested the hypothesis that this apparent demographic independence of lucerne and cotton inhabiting mirids is the result of cryptic species being associated with these two crops. We assessed gene flow using microsatellite markers across adjacent cotton and lucerne crops at three geographically separated sites (up to 900 km apart). We also analysed the recent feeding behaviour of these insects by amplifying chloroplast markers from their gut contents. We find high gene flow between these two crops (mean pair wise FST between host plants=0.0141 within localities), and no evidence of cryptic species. Furthermore, the gut analyses revealed evidence of substantial recent movement between these two crops. We discuss the implications of these results for interpreting multiple host use in this species and setting future research priorities for this economically important pest.

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