UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Analysis of the evolutionary relationship and geographical patterns of genetically varied populations of diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) You, Shijun


The diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella, is well known for its extensive adaptation and distribution, high level of genetic variation and polymorphism, and strong resistance to a broad range of synthetic insecticides. Although understanding of the P. xylostella biology and ecology has been considerably improved, knowledge on the genetic basis of these traits remains surprisingly limited. Based on data generated by different sets of molecular markers, we uncovered the history of evolutionary origin and regional dispersal, identified the patterns of genetic diversity and variation, characterized the demographic history, and revealed natural and human-aided factors that are potentially responsible for contemporary distribution of P. xylostella. These findings rewrite our understanding of this exceptional system, revealing that South America might be a potential origin of P. xylostella, and recently colonized across most parts of the world resulting possibly from intensified human activities. With the data from selected continents, we demonstrated signatures of localized selection associated with environmental adaptation and insecticide resistance of P. xylostella. This work brings us to a better understanding of the regional movement and genetic bases on rapid adaptation and development of agrochemical resistance, and provides a solid foundation for better monitoring and management of this worldwide herbivore and forecast of regional pest status of P. xylostella, by taking a cost-effective response to insecticide resistance and better implementation of biological control programs.

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