Looking for variable molecular markers in the chestnut gall wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus: first comparison across genes.
The quick spread of the chestnut gall wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus in Europe constitutes an outstanding example of recent human-aided biological invasion with dramatic economic losses. We screened for the first time a set of five nuclear and mitochondrial genes from D. kuriphilus collected in the Iberian Peninsula, and compared the sequences with those available from the native and invasive range of the species. We found no genetic variability in Iberia in none of the five genes, moreover, the three genes compared with other European samples showed no variability either. We recorded four cytochrome b haplotypes in Europe; one was genuine mitochondrial DNA and the rest nuclear copies of mitDNA (numts), what stresses the need of careful in silico analyses. The numts formed a separate cluster in the gene tree and at least two of them might be orthologous, what suggests that the invasion might have started with more than one individual. Our results point at a low initial population size in Europe followed by a quick population growth. Future studies assessing the expansion of this pest should include a large number of sampling sites and use powerful nuclear markers (e. g. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) to detect genetic variability.