The spiraea aphid (Aphis spiraecola Patch) is a primary pest of fruit trees, particularly pear trees in China. Despite the economic importance of this pest, little is known about its genetic structure or its patterns of dispersal at local and regional scales; however, knowledge of these characteristics is important for establishing effective control strategies for this pest. The genetic variability of 431 individuals from 21 populations on pear trees in China was investigated using eight polymorphic microsatellite loci. The high polymorphism of these markers was evident from the expected heterozygosity value (He = 0.824) and the Polymorphism Information Content (PIC = 0.805), indicating that the spiraea aphid maintains a high level of genetic diversity. The analysis of molecular variance revealed a middle level of population differentiation (FST = 0.1478) among A. spiraecola populations. This result is consistent with the results of the STRUCTURE analysis (K = 3), the unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic average tree and the Mantel test (r = 0.6392; P < 0.05). Our results indicate high levels of genetic exchange in the spiraea aphid, possibly facilitated by geography and climate. Our findings emphasize the importance of considering regional differences in studies of population structure, even when strong isolation-by-distance influences the genetic population structure of species.
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Vol. 105 • No. 2