Determining the most likely source of an invasive pest species might help to improve their management by establishing efficient quarantine measures and heading the search of efficient biological control agents. Planococcus ficus is an invasive mealybug pest of vineyards in Argentina, California, Mexico, Peru and South Africa. This mealybug pest had a previously known geographic distribution spanning southern Europe, the Middle East, and parts of northern Africa. In North America, Pl. ficus was first discovered in the early 1990s and soon thereafter in Mexico. To determine the origin of invasive populations in North America, Pl. ficusfrom California and Mexico were compared with material throughout its presumptive native range in the Mediterranean region, as well as material collected from an older invasion in South Africa and recently invaded Argentina. From each sample location, genomic DNA was sequenced for the nuclear internal transcribed spacer one (ITS1) and the mitochondrial cytochrome c. oxidase one (CO1). Phylogenetic analyses of CO1, ITS1 and concatenated CO1 and ITS1 data-sets using Bayesian and neighbor-joining analysis support two major divisions: a European grouping (Europe, Tunisia, Turkey) and a Middle Eastern grouping (Israel and Egypt). The invasive populations in Argentina and South Africa align with the European group and the invasive populations in North America align with the Middle Eastern group, with one Israel sample aligning closely with the North American clade, suggesting that Israel was the origin of those populations.
Daane, K.M., Middleton, M.C., Sforza, R.F.H., Kamps-Hughes, N., Watson, G.W., Almeida, R.P.P., Correa, M.C.G., Downie, D.A., and Walton, V.M. (2018). Determining the geographic origin of invasive populations of the mealybug Planococcus ficus based on molecular genetic analysis. PLOS ONE 13, e0193852. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193852