Brontispa longissima (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) is a serious invasive pest of coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) supposedly originating from Indonesia and New Guinea. It has recently invaded Southeast and East Asia, where it has caused serious damage to coconut plants. Brontispa longissima as currently defined contains two cryptic species: we herein referred to one as the "Asian clade", which is distributed over a wide area, including Asia and the Pacific region; and we referred to the other one as the "Pacific clade", which is found in a limited area in the Pacific region. We developed a PCR-RFLP method for differentiating the two clades. Digestion of the PCR product of a 1,014-bp region within the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene (COI) with BslI, HpyCH4III, or NlaIV resulted in clade-specific patterns as estimated by the sequence data. We applied the method to specimens newly obtained from various locations to investigate the geographical distribution of B. longissima. Although B. longissima collected from Samoa in April 2003 had been placed in the Pacific clade, specimens collected from the same island in April 2010 were placed in the Asian clade, suggesting that the predominant clade may have been changing from the former to the latter. On Timor, specimens included both clades in apparently segregated habitats.
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