Host-associated differentiation in a highly polyphagous, sexually reproducing insect herbivore. Academic Article uri icon


  • Insect herbivores may undergo genetic divergence on their host plants through host-associated differentiation (HAD). Much of what we know about HAD involves insect species with narrow host ranges (i.e., specialists) that spend part or all their life cycle inside their hosts, and/or reproduce asexually (e.g., parthenogenetic insects), all of which are thought to facilitate HAD. However, sexually reproducing polyphagous insects can also exhibit HAD. Few sexually reproducing insects have been tested for HAD, and when they have insects from only a handful of potential host-plant populations have been tested, making it difficult to predict how common HAD is when one considers the entire species' host range. This question is particularly relevant when considering insect pests, as host-associated populations may differ in traits relevant to their control. Here, we tested for HAD in a cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) pest, the cotton fleahopper (CFH) (Pseudatomoscelis seriatus), a sexually reproducing, highly polyphagous hemipteran insect. A previous study detected one incidence of HAD among three of its host plants. We used Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers to assess HAD in CFH collected from an expanded array of 13 host-plant species belonging to seven families. Overall, four genetically distinct populations were found. One genetically distinct genotype was exclusively associated with one of the host-plant species while the other three were observed across more than one host-plant species. The relatively low degree of HAD in CFH compared to the pea aphid, another hemipteran insect, stresses the likely importance of sexual recombination as a factor increasing the likelihood of HAD.

published proceedings

  • Ecol Evol

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Antwi, J. B., Sword, G. A., & Medina, R. F.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Antwi, Josephine B||Sword, Gregory A||Medina, Raul F

publication date

  • July 2015