ESA Southeastern Branch Meeting Online Program

33 Characterizing population and genetic structure of Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) in Florida

Monday, March 4, 2013: 2:28 PM
Louisiana Room (Hilton Baton Rouge)
Megan Wilkerson , Center for Biological Control, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Raymond L. Hix , Center for Biological Control, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Cindy L. McKenzie , US Horticultural Research Laboratory, USDA - ARS, Fort Pierce, FL
The genus Aleurodicus comprises over 30 species of whiteflies natively found in abundance throughout Central America and the Caribbean. Whiteflies are tiny, polyphagous, sap-ingesting insects affecting fruit crops, ornamental plantings as well as various shrubs and trees. A wide range of hosts with annual overlapping generations coupled with short developmental cycles, allow this species to quickly reach infestation on suitable host plants. The Rugose Spiraling Whitefly, Aleurodicus rugioperculatus has quickly become an emerging pest to Florida’s agriculture, chiefly problematic for the southernmost counties, especially to vegetables, herbs and floral crops. High speculation of its geographic origin and low morphological discrepancies among species, reiterate how imperative genetic differentiation at a molecular level is in properly identifying and characterizing this population. Since morphological characteristics are immensely influenced by environmental factors, molecular profiles become vital to defining polymorphisms and understanding evolutionary changes. The goal of this research is to determine phylogenetic relationships, using molecular and genetic tools to determine whether prevailing A. rugioperculatus exist as a single population. Furthermore, it may be possible to reconstruct ancestral geographic origins with biological characteristics through molecular experimentation.