Genetic variability in Italian populations of Drosophila suzukii.
Background: Drosophila suzukii is a highly destructive pest species, causing substantial economic losses in soft fruit production. To better understand migration patterns, gene flow and adaptation in invaded regions, we studied the genetic structure of D. suzukii collected across Italy, where it was first observed in 2008. In particular, we analysed 15 previously characterised Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers to estimate genetic differentiation across the genome of 278 flies collected from nine populations. Results: The nine populations showed high allelic diversity, mainly due to very high heterozygosity. The high Polymorphism Information Content (PIC) index values (ranging from 0.68 to 0.84) indicated good discrimination power for the markers. Negative fixation index (FIS) values in seven of the populations indicated a low level of inbreeding, as suggested by the high number of alleles. STRUCTURE, Principal Coordinate and Neighbour Joining analysis also revealed that the Sicilian population was fairly divergent compared to other Italian populations. Moreover, migration was present across all populations, with the exception of the Sicilian one, confirming its isolation relative to the mainland. Conclusions: This is the first study characterising the genetic structure of the invasive species D. suzukii in Italy. Our analysis showed extensive genetic homogeneity among D. suzukii collected in Italy. The relatively isolated Sicilian population suggests a largely human-mediated migration pattern, while the warm climate in this region allows the production of soft fruit, and the associated D. suzukii reproductive season occurring much earlier than on the rest of the peninsula.