The process of domestication and geographic origins of the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus Costa) has remained largely unstudied despite its importance as a global food colorant commodity. Ecological evidence supports Oaxaca Mexico as the geographic origin of this species. Other recent genetic studies have been inconclusive. Here, we fill in the remaining gaps in the ecological record and look for corroboration from mtDNA markers as to the origin of this species. We use three mtDNA genes (CO1, tRNA-Leucine, and CO2) spanning 1294 bp, along with climate niche modeling of Holocene and Pleistocene cochineal distributions. We find the center of origin of D. coccus to be Oaxaca Mexico based on mtDNA data and climate niche modeling. Further meta-genomic data are needed to rule out selective sweeps from past and present endosymbionts for these results to be definitive.
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