The greenbug aphid, Schizaphis graminum (Rondani) was introduced into the United States in the late 1880s, and quickly was established as a pest of wheat, oat, and barley. Sorghum was also a host, but it was not until 1968 that greenbug became a serious pest of it as well. The most effective control method is the planting of resistant varieties; however, the occurrence of greenbug biotypes has hampered the development and use of plant resistance as a management technique. Until the 1990s, the evolutionary status of greenbug biotypes was obscure. Four mtDNA cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) haplotypes were previously identified, suggesting that S. graminum sensu lato was comprised of host-adapted races. To elucidate the current evolutionary and taxonomic status of the greenbug and its biotypes, two nuclear genes and introns were sequenced; cytochrome c (CytC) and elongation factor 1-α (EF1-α). Phylogenetic analysis of CytC sequences were in complete agreement with COI sequences and demonstrated three distinct evolutionary lineages in S. graminum. EF1-α DNA sequences were in partial agreement with COI and CytC sequences, and demonstrated two distinct evolutionary lineages. Host-adapted races in greenbug are sympatric and appear reproductively isolated. Agricultural biotypes in S. graminum likely arose by genetic recombination via meiosis during sexual reproduction within host-races. The 1968 greenbug outbreak on sorghum was the result of the introduction of a host race adapted to sorghum, and not selection by host resistance genes in crops.
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