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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Microsatellites reveal a strong subdivision of genetic structure in Chinese populations of the mite Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae)

Jing-Tao Sun1, Chunlan Lian2, Maria Navajas3 and Xiao-Yue Hong1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Entomology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210095, China

2 Asian Natural Environmental Science Center, The University of Tokyo, Midori-cho 1-1-8, Nishitokyo-shi, Tokyo 188-0002, Japan

3 INRA, CBGP, Campus International de Baillarguet, CS 30016, 34988 Montferrier-sur-Lez, France

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BMC Genetics 2012, 13:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-13-8

Published: 21 February 2012



Two colour forms of the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae Koch) coexist in China: a red (carmine) form, which is considered to be native and a green form which is considered to be invasive. The population genetic diversity and population genetic structure of this organism were unclear in China, and there is a controversy over whether they constitute distinct species. To address these issues, we genotyped a total of 1,055 individuals from 18 red populations and 7 green populations in China using eight microsatellite loci.


We identified 109 alleles. We found a highly significant genetic differentiation among the 25 populations (global FST = 0.506, global FST {ENA} = 0.473) and a low genetic diversity in each population. In addition, genetic diversity of the red form mites was found to be higher than the green form. Pearson correlations between statistics of variation (AR and HE) and geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude) showed that the genetic diversity of the red form was correlated with latitude. Using Bayesian clustering, we divided the Chinese mite populations into five clades which were well congruent with their geographic distributions.


Spider mites possess low levels of genetic diversity, limit gene flow between populations and significant and IBD (isolation by distance) effect. These factors in turn contribute to the strong subdivision of genetic structure. In addition, population genetic structure results don't support the separation of the two forms of spider mite into two species. The morphological differences between the two forms of mites may be a result of epigenetic effects.

Two-spotted spider mite; Green form; Red form; Genetic diversity; Null alleles