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Microsatellites reveal that genetic mixing commonly occurs between invasive fall armyworm populations in Africa

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number20757
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>21/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Scientific Reports
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Understanding the population structure and movements of the invasive fall armyworm (FAW, Spodoptera frugiperda) is important as it can help mitigate crop damage, and highlight areas at risk of outbreaks or evolving insecticide resistance. Determining population structure in invasive FAW has been a challenge due to genetic mutations affecting the markers traditionally used for strain and haplotype identification; mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COIB) and the Z-chromosome-linked Triosephosphate isomerase (Tpi). Here, we compare the results from COIB and Tpi markers with highly variable repeat regions (microsatellites) to improve our understanding of FAW population structure in Africa. There was very limited genetic diversity using the COIB marker, whereas using the TpiI4 marker there was greater diversity that showed very little evidence of genetic structuring between FAW populations across Africa. There was greater genetic diversity identified using microsatellites, and this revealed a largely panmictic population of FAW alongside some evidence of genetic structuring between countries. It is hypothesised here that FAW are using long-distance flight and prevailing winds to frequently move throughout Africa leading to population mixing. These approaches combined provide important evidence that genetic mixing between invasive FAW populations may be more common than previously reported.