Population genetics of the brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys in the early phase of invasion in South Tyrol (Northern Italy).
The brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys is one of the most harmful invasive species in the world. Native to East Asia, this insect was introduced into North America in the 1990s and into Europe in the 2000s where it subsequently established and spread across the continent. Previous population genetic studies determined the invasion pathways at continental and national levels. However, information on the dynamics on a small-scale is currently scarce. Here we study the genetic diversity and population dynamics of H. halys in South Tyrol, a region in Northern Italy, since its arrival to its widespread establishment over a period of four years. By haplotyping 162 individuals from ten populations (including six previously published individuals) we found a high haplotype diversity in most populations with an increasing diversity across the different years. Most haplotypes were previously found in other regions of Northern Italy, providing evidence for migration from neighboring regions. However, the presence of four previously undescribed haplotypes as well as a haplotype previously found exclusively in Greece highlights additional long-distance dispersal across the continent. Phylogenetic analysis of the haplotypes found in South Tyrol showed that the majority of haplotypes clustered with haplotypes predominantly found in Japan. This suggests a potential recent introduction of H. halys individuals from Japan into Europe, and thus an additional invasion pathway that was previously unidentified.