Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Tracing the invasion characteristics of the yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), in Korea using newly detected variable mitochondrial DNA sequences.

Abstract

The yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), invaded South Korea in 2003 through Busan metropolitan city, which is located in the southeast region of the country. Previous studies aiming to trace the origin of V. velutina in Korea used a portion of mitochondrial (mt) COI and detected a single haplotype common to the site of origin. However, no subsequent study on invasive dynamics such as additional entry and/or another site of entry has been performed. In this study, segments of mt COI, CytB, and lrRNA were sequenced from 238 individuals collected in 11 Korean and two Japanese localities, but no variation in each gene was observed. Thus, we developed two intergenic spacer (IGS) sequences from the publicly available mt genome of V. velutina, which provided substantially increased variability (i.e., 19 haplotypes with 1.74% maximum sequence divergence in 1,129-1,146-bp-long concatenated sequences). Population genetic analyses using the concatenated sequences unexpectedly provided higher genetic diversity estimates in the northwest and southwest regions, both of which also harbor international cargo ports, than in the southeast region, in which Busan is located. Furthermore, this genetic result was roughly concordant with our questionnaire survey demonstrating that V. velutina was observed in apiaries located in the northwest and southwest regions up to 2012, when there was no reported prevalent distribution of the hornet beyond the southeast region. These results collectively suggest that the northwest and southwest regions of Korea are additional sites of V. velutina entry to the country, independent from the southeast region origin.