Bactrocera tau (Walker), a major invasive pest worldwide, was first described in Fujian (China) in 1849 and has dispersed to tropical and subtropical Asia and the South Pacific region. Few data are available on its colonization history and expansion processes. This pilot study attempted to reconstruct the colonization history and pathways of this pest in China and neighboring Southeast Asian countries based on mitochondrial DNA. Results of the study showed six genetic groups corresponding to geographical characteristics, although the pattern was relatively weak. Homogeneous genetic patterns were observed within southern and central China, and northern Vietnam. Continuous colonization from the coast of southern China to inland regions of China and northern Vietnam was suggested. Strong genetic structure was observed in western China, Thailand, and Laos. The isolation of four of the six groups was most probably attributable to major topographical barriers of western China. Yunnan acted as a contact zone of B. tau in China and neighboring Southeast Asia. The absence of isolation by distance and the overall low phylogeographic structure of B. tau suggested that long distance dispersal events and human activities could play a major role in the colonization and expansion patterns of B. tau. By analyzing the genetic diversity, gene flow, haplotype phylogeny, and demographic history of 23 fly populations,wehypothesized that B. tau could have been introduced long ago in southern China, from which it further expanded or that southern China could correspond to the native range of this species.
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