Genetic population structure of sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari, in sorghum, sugarcane, and Johnsongrass in the continental USA Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017 The Netherlands Entomological Society In 2013, an outbreak of Melanaphis sacchari Zehntner (Hemiptera: Aphididae) was reported in sorghum in Texas, USA. Although this aphid has been reported in the continental USA for nearly a century, its occurrence was limited to Florida and Louisiana sugarcane. After 2013 and within just 3years M.sacchari was reported in almost all sorghum growing regions from south central to southeastern states in the USA. Sorghum fields in affected areas have sustained considerable losses. This aphid has also been reported on Johnsongrass and other feral grasses. The speed at which this aphid has spread raises serious concerns about future infestations. Many aphid species present genetically distinct populations when feeding on different host plants. Thus, it was hypothesized that the recent outbreak in sorghum could be explained by a recent introduction of a sorghum-specialized genotype. In this study, we genetically characterized M.sacchari in three of its most common host plants sorghum, sugarcane, and Johnsongrass across its geographic distribution in the continental USA. Although M.sacchari specimens were grouped within three genetically distinct clusters, we did not find evidence of host plant or geographic population structure. Our characterization of the genetic structure of this pest provides baseline data aimed to help explain its recent outbreak in sorghum, as well as information that may aid in the design of sustainable control strategies.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Medina, R. F., Armstrong, S. J., & Harrison, K.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Medina, Raul F||Armstrong, Scott J||Harrison, Kyle

publication date

  • March 2017