Restricted Gene Flow among Lineages of Thrips tabaci Supports Genetic Divergence Among Cryptic Species Groups.
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Knowledge of the relative influence of population- versus species-level genetic variation is important to understand patterns of phenotypic variation and ecological relationships that exist among and within morphologically indistinguishable cryptic species and subspecies. In the case of cryptic species groups that are pests, such knowledge is also essential for devising effective population management strategies. The globally important crop pest Thrips tabaci is a taxonomically difficult group of putatively cryptic species. This study examines population genetic structure of T. tabaci and reproductive isolation among lineages of this species complex using microsatellite markers and mitochondrial COI sequences. Overall, genetic structure supports T. tabaci as a cryptic species complex, although limited interbreeding occurs between different clonal groups from the same lineage as well as between individuals from different lineages. These results also provide evidence that thelytoky and arrhenotoky are not fixed phenotypes among members of different T. tabaci lineages that have been generally associated with either reproductive mode. Possible biological and ecological factors contributing to these observations are discussed.