Low Variation in Nuclear and Mitochondrial DNA Inhibits Resolution of Invasion Pathways across the Pacific for the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (Scarabeidae: Oryctes rhinoceros)

Reil, J. Bradley
San Jose, Michael
Rubinoff, Daniel
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Hawaiian Entomological Society
The coconut rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) is a severe pest of coconut and other palms that has invaded the South Pacific in the last decade. The beetle can cause great economic losses, not only to agriculture but also due to indirect impacts on tropical aesthetics and tourism. In the last decade, new invasive populations of the beetle have been detected on Guam and Oahu, Hawaii. Despite the beetle’s extensive invasion history and economic impacts, little is known about its invasion dynamics. We used 1,480 base pairs of cytochrome oxidase subunit I mitochondrial and 814 base pairs of carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase, aspartate transcarbamoylase, dihydroorotase nuclear DNA to conduct a population genetics analysis on eight beetle populations from Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China in the beetle’s native range and Palau, American Samoa, Guam, and Hawaii in the beetle’s invasive range, in an attempt to resolve invasion pathways. Genetic diversity was insufficient to generate strong evidence for O. rhinoceros movement patterns. Mitochondrial DNA provided a clear but poorly supported population structure. Although nuclear DNA proved to be more diverse, population structure lacked clear signal. This lack of diversity is congruent with a rapid, recent invasion. There appears to be no genetic exchange between populations once they establish, implying that they are rare, human-mediated dispersal events.
Proceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society (2016) 48:57-69.
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