Microsatellite variation in colonizing populations of yellow-legged Asian hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax, in South Korea.
Introduction of exotic species poses a tremendous challenge to the preservation of original biodiversity and productivity in natural ecosystems. The yellow-legged Asian hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax, which is native to tropical/subtropical areas in Indo-China, was identified in 2003 for the first time in South Korea and has established itself in a short period of time. Population genetic study of invasive species may provide exceptional opportunities to test evolutionary theory as well as patterns of colonization from the beginning of the process. Here, the genetic variability of this invasive hornet was examined using seven microsatellites to estimate the propagule pressure and to expect the spreading pathway of this invasive hornet across its range. Overall, there was a significant loss of genetic diversity in its invaded ranges compared to its native range, suggesting that this invasive hornet was introduced via a very small number of propagules. Our results also support that this invasive hornet has experienced a severe bottleneck, as a large reduction was mainly observed in the number of alleles but not in heterozygosity. No significant genetic structuring among populations was found. This study provides baseline information about the current demographic status of the invaded populations, which will help governing agencies prevent further invasions and manage native ecosystems.