Population structure of Bactrocera dorsalis s.s., B. papayae and B. philippinensis (Diptera:Tephritidae) in southeast Asia: evidence for a single species hypothesis using mitochondrial DNA and wing-shape data

Mark K. Schutze*, Matthew N. Krosch, Karen F. Armstrong, Toni A. Chapman, Anna Englezou, Anastasija Chomic, Stephen L. Cameron, Deborah Hailstones, Anthony R. Clarke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bactrocera dorsalis s.s. is a pestiferous tephritid fruit fly distributed from Pakistan to the Pacific, with the Thai/Malay peninsula its southern limit. Sister pest taxa, B. papayae and B. philippinensis, occur in the southeast Asian archipelago and the Philippines, respectively. The relationship among these species is unclear due to their high molecular and morphological similarity. This study analysed population structure of these three species within a southeast Asian biogeographical context to assess potential dispersal patterns and the validity of their current taxonomic status.

Results: Geometric morphometric results generated from 15 landmarks for wings of 169 flies revealed significant differences in wing shape between almost all sites following canonical variate analysis. For the combined data set there was a greater isolation-by-distance (IBD) effect under a 'non-Euclidean' scenario which used geographical distances within a biogeographical 'Sundaland context' (r(2) = 0.772, P <0.0001) as compared to a 'Euclidean' scenario for which direct geographic distances between sample sites was used (r(2) = 0.217, P <0.01). COI sequence data were obtained for 156 individuals and yielded 83 unique haplotypes with no correlation to current taxonomic designations via a minimum spanning network. BEAST analysis provided a root age and location of 540kya in northern Thailand, with migration of B. dorsalis s.l. into Malaysia 470kya and Sumatra 270kya. Two migration events into the Philippines are inferred. Sequence data revealed a weak but significant IBD effect under the 'non-Euclidean' scenario (r(2) = 0.110, P <0.05), with no historical migration evident between Taiwan and the Philippines. Results are consistent with those expected at the intra-specific level.

Conclusions: Bactrocera dorsalis s.s., B. papayae and B. philippinensis likely represent one species structured around the South China Sea, having migrated from northern Thailand into the southeast Asian archipelago and across into the Philippines. No migration is apparent between the Philippines and Taiwan. This information has implications for quarantine, trade and pest management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-144
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Geometric morphometrics
  • Cytochrome c oxidase I
  • South China Sea biogeography
  • Fruit flies

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