Invasion of sorghum in the Americas by a new sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari) superclone
In the United States (US), the sugarcane aphid (SCA) Melanaphis sacchari (Zehnter) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) was introduced in the 1970s, however at that time it was only considered a pest of sugarcane. In 2013, a massive outbreak of M. sacchari occured on sorghum, resulting in significant economic damage to sorghum grown in North America including the US, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The aim of the present study was to determine if the SCA pest emergence in American sorghum resulted from the introduction of new genotypes. To this end we used microsatellite markers and COI sequencing to compare the genetic diversity of SCA populations collected in the Americas after the 2013 SCA outbreak on sorghum (during 2013–2017) to older samples collected before the pest outbreak (during 2007–2009). Our results show that the SCA outbreak in the Americas and the Caribbean observed since 2013 belong to populations exhibiting low genetic diversity and consisting of a dominant clonal lineage, MLL-F, which colonizes Sorghum spp. and sugarcane. The comparison of MLL-F specimens collected post-2013 with specimens collected in Louisiana in 2007 revealed that both populations are genetically distinct, according to COI sequencing and microsatellite data analyses. Our result suggest that MLL-F is a new invasive genotype introduced into the Americas that has spread rapidly across sorghum growing regions in the US, Mexico, Honduras and the Caribbean. The origin of this introduction is either Africa or Asia, with Asia being the most probable source.