“Why so many colors?” Color variation in the cane root borer Diaprepes abbreviatus in Puerto Rico

Monday, November 11, 2013
Exhibit Hall 4 (Austin Convention Center)
Luis Marrero-Ramos , Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon, PR
Bert Rivera-Marchand , Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR, PR
Stephen L. Lapointe , U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, FL
The neotropical root weevil Diaprepes abbreviatus is a recognized agricultural pest. Its larvae and adults are known to feed on >300 different plant species and have caused extensive damage to citrus through root feeding and by facilitating infection by soil-borne pathogens. In order to find viable biological control it is important to examine this weevil in its native environment. Based on color variation it has been hypothesized that D. abbreviatus originated in the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Puerto Rico. The color range includes red, orange, yellow, white, grey and brown. The color variation may be due to biogeographical factors, host plant interactions, or they may be associated with discrete populations. We examined museum specimens collected between 1948 and 2007 and found no biogeographical correlation with color. Recent sampling suggests that red individuals are only found on citrus, but the sample size is too small to allow conclusions. A phylogeny based on mtDNA data obtained from GenBank produced three groups consisting of specimens from (1) Dominica, (2) the Dominican Republic and western Puerto Rico, and (3) Puerto Rico, Florida and the Dominican Republic. The data do not specify color, so we amplified red, yellow, white and orange individuals from Puerto Rico and will include their sequences in the phylogenetic analysis. The results of this analysis will contribute to understanding the phenotypic variability, distribution and recent movement of D. abbreviatus.