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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGICALLY-BASED MANAGEMENT OF INSECT PESTS OF CORN, WITH EMPHASIS ON CORN BORERS, ROOTWORMS, AND CUTWORMS

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

Title: Population genetics strategies to characterize long-distance dispersal of insects

Authors
item Kim, Kyung Seok -
item SAPPINGTON, THOMAS

Submitted to: Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: November 28, 2012
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Citation: Kim, K., Sappington, T.W. 2013. Population genetics strategies to characterize long-distance dispersal of insects. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology. 16(1):87-97.

Interpretive Summary: Adult dispersal is a critical life-history variable of any insect pest. It affects its survival, gene flow, colonization of crop hosts, local pest pressure, rate of evolution and spread of local adaptations (including resistance), and spread of associated pathogens. Long-distance dispersal of insect pests, whether through natural flight or human-mediated transport, usually complicates management strategies and thus increases its negative economic impact on the affected commodity at regional and global scales. Thus, knowledge of dispersal patterns and capacity of insects is key to designing effective management strategies, but it is an inherently difficult trait to characterize for any type of mobile insect, and generally requires a combination of techniques for gaining a comprehensive understanding of movement across different spatial scales. In this paper, we summarize our work on the boll weevil as a case study to illustrate the kinds of information on dispersal capacity and dispersal patterns that can be obtained from population genetics techniques that would be difficult or impossible to acquire in other ways. Then we provide examples of how the molecular markers and population genetics tools have been applied to answer immediate questions of relevance to eradication program managers. Though the latter are idiosyncratic to this particular pest, they demonstrate the kinds and range of problems that can be addressed in other systems through application of population genetics strategies. This information will be useful to university, government, and industry scientists seeking to characterize long-distance movement of insect pests when devising effective pest management or insect resistance management strategies.

Technical Abstract: Population genetics strategies offer an alternative and powerful approach for obtaining information about long-distance movement, and have been widely used for examining patterns and magnitude of insect dispersal over geographic and temporal scales. Such strategies are based on the principle that genetic divergence between local populations reflects the interplay between genetic drift and gene flow, and thus can function as an indicator of dispersal capacity. Relatively new approaches for inferring population history are widely applicable for documenting introduction routes of invasive or quarantine species. These approaches are based on genetic variability calculated from changes in gene frequency of subpopulations, measured using molecular genetic markers. Inferences from population genetics can supplement and corroborate conventional observational approaches for characterizing insect dispersal and have provided important clues to many questions raised in the field of behavior and ecology of insects. Here, we summarize our work on the boll weevil as a case study to illustrate the kinds of information on dispersal capacity and dispersal patterns that can be obtained from population genetics techniques that would be difficult or impossible to acquire in other ways. Then we provide examples of how the molecular markers and population genetics tools have been applied to answer immediate questions of relevance to eradication program managers. Though the latter are idiosyncratic to this particular pest, they demonstrate the kinds and range of problems that can be addressed in other systems through application of population genetics strategies.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014