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Science. 2011 Feb 25;331(6020):1066-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1198734.

Global invasion history of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta.

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USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, 1600/1700 Southwest 23rd Drive, Gainesville, FL, USA.


The fire ant Solenopsis invicta is a significant pest that was inadvertently introduced into the southern United States almost a century ago and more recently into California and other regions of the world. An assessment of genetic variation at a diverse set of molecular markers in 2144 fire ant colonies from 75 geographic sites worldwide revealed that at least nine separate introductions of S. invicta have occurred into newly invaded areas and that the main southern U.S. population is probably the source of all but one of these introductions. The sole exception involves a putative serial invasion from the southern United States to California to Taiwan. These results illustrate in stark fashion a severe negative consequence of an increasingly massive and interconnected global trade and travel system.

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