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Type: Journal article
Title: Cryptic Plutella species show deep divergence despite the capacity to hybridize
Author: Perry, K.
Baker, G.
Powis, K.
Kent, J.
Ward, C.
Baxter, S.
Citation: BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2018; 18(1):77
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 1471-2148
Statement of
Kym D. Perry, Gregory J. Baker, Kevin J. Powis, Joanne K. Kent, Christopher M. Ward and Simon W. Baxter
Abstract: Background: Understanding genomic and phenotypic diversity among cryptic pest taxa has important implications for the management of pests and diseases. The diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella L., has been intensively studied due to its ability to evolve insecticide resistance and status as the world’s most destructive pest of brassicaceous crops. The surprise discovery of a cryptic species endemic to Australia, Plutella australiana Landry & Hebert, raised questions regarding the distribution, ecological traits and pest status of the two species, the capacity for gene flow and whether specific management was required. Here, we collected Plutella from wild and cultivated brassicaceous plants from 75 locations throughout Australia and screened 1447 individuals to identify mtDNA lineages and Wolbachia infections. We genotyped genome-wide SNP markers using RADseq in coexisting populations of each species. In addition, we assessed reproductive compatibility in crossing experiments and insecticide susceptibility phenotypes using bioassays. Results: The two Plutella species coexisted on wild brassicas and canola crops, but only 10% of Plutella individuals were P. australiana. This species was not found on commercial Brassica vegetable crops, which are routinely sprayed with insecticides. Bioassays found that P. australiana was 19-306 fold more susceptible to four commonly-used insecticides than P. xylostella. Laboratory crosses revealed that reproductive isolation was incomplete but directionally asymmetric between the species. However, genome-wide nuclear SNPs revealed striking differences in genetic diversity and strong population structure between coexisting wild populations of each species. Nuclear diversity was 1.5-fold higher in P. australiana, yet both species showed limited variation in mtDNA. Infection with a single Wolbachia subgroup B strain was fixed in P. australiana, suggesting that a selective sweep contributed to low mtDNA diversity, while a subgroup A strain infected just 1.5% of P. xylostella. Conclusions: Despite sympatric distributions and the capacity to hybridize, strong genomic and phenotypic divergence exists between these Plutella species that is consistent with contrasting colonization histories and reproductive isolation after secondary contact. Although P. australiana is a potential pest of brassicaceous crops, it is of secondary importance to P. xylostella.
Keywords: Lepidoptera; Plutella australiana; Plutella xylostella; Wolbachia; hybridization; insecticide resistance; sympatric
Rights: © The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030090321
DOI: 10.1186/s12862-018-1183-4
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Appears in Collections:Agriculture, Food and Wine publications

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