Tracking outbreak populations of the pepper weevil Anthonomus eugenii (Coleoptera; Curculionidae) using complete mitochondrial genomes

Bart T.L.H. van de Vossenberg*, Tim Warbroek, Joseph Ingerson-Mahar, Cees Waalwijk, Lucas P. Van Der Gouw, Bernadette Eichinger, Antoon J.M. Loomans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The pepper weevil, Anthonomus eugenii, is a major pest on Capsicum species. Apart from natural spread, there is a risk of spread via international pepper trade. In the Netherlands, a pepper weevil outbreak occurred in 2012 and affected six greenhouses producing different sweet pepper varieties. The following year, a pepper weevil outbreak occurred in Italy. To trace the origin of the Dutch outbreak and to establish if the Dutch and Italian outbreaks were linked, we determined the mitogenomes of A. eugenii specimens collected at outbreak locations, and compared these with specimens from the native area, and other areas where the pest was introduced either by natural dispersal or via trade. The circular 17,257 bp A. eugenii mitogenome comprises thirteen mitochondrial genes typically found in insect species. Intra-species variation of these mitochondrial genes revealed four main mitochondrial lineages encompassing 41 haplotypes. The highest diversity was observed for specimens from its presumed native area (i.e. Mexico). The Dutch outbreak specimens represented three highly similar haplotypes, suggesting a single introduction of the pest. The major Dutch haplotype was also found in two specimens from New Jersey. As the Netherlands does not have pepper trade with New Jersey, it is likely that the specimens sampled in New Jersey and those sampled in the Netherlands originate from a shared source that was not included in this study. In addition, our analysis shows that the Italian and Dutch outbreaks were not linked. The mitochondrial genome is a useful tool to trace outbreak populations and the methodology presented in this paper could prove valuable for other invasive pest species, such as the African fruit moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta and emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0221182
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


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