A survey was conducted during 2009–2010 seasons to identify the distribution of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) biotypes in Tunisia. The genetic affiliation of collected populations was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment-length polymorphism (TaqI) of the mitochondrial cytochrom oxidase I (mtCOI) gene. Results, validated by sequencing and phylogenetic analysis, allowed the clustering of sampled sweetpotato whiteflies into B and Q biotypes. As B. tabaci harbors the obligatory bacterium Portiera aleyrodidarum, and a diverse array of secondary symbionts including Rickettsia, Hamiltonella, Wolbachia, Cardinium, Arsenophonus, and Fritschea, we report here the infectious status of Tunisian populations by secondary symbionts to find out a correlation between bacterial composition to biotype. The genetic variability and structure of B. tabaci populations in Tunisia was driven by analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) and the hypothesis of isolation by distance was explored. Selective neutrality and genetic haplotype network tests suggested that Tunisian sweetpotato whiteflies have been undergoing a potential expansion followed by gene flow restriction.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4