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Global genomic signature reveals the evolution of fall armyworm in the Eastern hemisphere

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/08/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Molecular Ecology
Issue number20
Pages (from-to)5463-5478
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date28/08/23
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The major plant pest fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is native to the Americas and has colonized Africa and Asia within the Eastern hemisphere since 2016, causing severe damage to multiple agricultural crop species. However, the genetic origin of these invasive populations requires more in‐depth exploration. We analysed genetic variation across the genomes of 280 FAW individuals from both the Eastern hemisphere and the Americas. The global range‐wide genetic structure of FAW shows that the FAW in America has experienced deep differentiation, largely consistent with the Z‐chromosomal Tpi haplotypes commonly used to differentiate ‘corn‐strain’ and ‘rice‐strain’ populations. The invasive populations from Africa and Asia are different from the American ones and have a relatively homogeneous population structure, consistent with the common origin and recent spreading from Africa to Asia. Our analyses suggest that north‐ and central American ‘corn‐strain’ FAW are the most likely sources of the invasion into the Eastern hemisphere. Furthermore, evidence based on genomic, transcriptomic and mitochondrial haplotype network analyses indicates an earlier, independent introduction of FAW into Africa, with subsequent migration into the recent invasive population.