The Eastern, Western, and Egyptian strains of alfalfa weevil are pests introduced to North America on three separate occasions, now they share partially overlapping geographic ranges, covering most of the continental United States. Behavior, susceptibility to parasites, and subtle morphological differences separate the strains. The difficulty in differentiating among these strains morphologically has led to the application of molecular phylogeny approaches including restriction fragment-length polymorphism characterization and sequencing of mitochondrial genes. While valuable for strain identification, this approach cannot identify interstrain hybrids because mitochondrial markers are maternally inherited. The work reported here extends previous findings by comparing over 7 Kb of sequence from two mitochondrial and four nuclear loci to increase the resolution of molecular phylogeny for these weevils. The related clover leaf weevil, also an occasional pest of alfalfa, was included in the analysis because the molecular phylogeny of this weevil has not been examined to date. Analysis of nuclear loci indicate that the clover weevil is a distinct species. Furthermore, while the three alfalfa weevil strains are separable based on mitochondrial sequence data they cannot be separated using nuclear loci suggesting that they are all recently diverged members of the same species. These data refine the relationships among these strains and may find application in design of better control strategies.
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