Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

Reproductive incompatibility among genetic groups of Bemisia tabaci supports the proposition that the whitefly is a cryptic species complex

J. Xua1, P.J. De Barroa2 and S.S. Liua1 c1

a1 Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Crop Pathogens and Insects, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029, China

a2 CSIRO Entomology, Indooroopilly, Brisbane QLD 4068, Australia


The worldwide distribution and extensive genetic diversity of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci has long been recognized. However, whether B. tabaci is a complex species or a species complex has been a subject of debate. Recent phylogenetic analyses suggest that B. tabaci is a cryptic species complex composed of at least 24 morphologically indistinguishable species. Here, we conducted crossing experiments and demonstrated reproductive incompatibility among three of the 24 putative species. Our data and those of previously reported crossing experiments among various putative species of B. tabaci were collated to reveal the pattern of reproductive isolation. The combined results provide strong support to the proposition that B. tabaci is a cryptic species complex.

(Accepted December 31 2009)

(Online publication February 24 2010)


c1 Author for correspondence Fax: 86 571 86049815 E-mail: shshliu@zju.edu.cn