Morphological discrimination of Aphis gossypii (Hemiptera : Aphididae) populations feeding on Compositae
Aphis gossypii Glover is a polyphagous aphid pest with a worldwide distribution. However, there is evidence that on a global scale the name A. gossypii is being applied to a number of forms with different life cycles and/or host-plant associations. Morphometric variation of A. gossypii samples from crops and non-cultivated plants in many parts of the world was examined, to determine whether this variation is correlated with the hosts from which the aphids originated. Samples of A. gossypii were collected from Cucurbitaceae and Malvaceae in Europe, and from Compositae in various parts of the world. Morphometric data for 13 parameters measured from 97 clonal lineages (728 specimens) and 27 field-collected samples (313 specimens) were analysed by a series of canonical variates analyses, using the field sample/clonal lineage as grouping factor. Clonal lineages were reared on a common host in controlled conditions to standardize the effect of host and environment on morphology. The analyses provided a clear morphometric separation of the aphids originating from Compositae and those collected on Cucurbitaceae and Malvaceae, regardless of the geographical origin of the aphids and the host plant on which they were reared. This indicates that within A. gossypii there are two widely distributed host races or subspecies with different plant family associations. The taxonomic implications are discussed.