A 300 bp portion of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene was used to investigate the intraspecific genetic structure of the European meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus. Levels of genetic subdivision between geographical regions in Europe were assessed using the KST statistic and revealed patterns indicative of the postglacial history of this organism. Northern European populations are shown to share a very recent common ancestor with, and hence originate from, a Balkan expansion. Genetic distances between these areas and both southern Italy and central Spain are shown to be approximately equal, even though only the Spanish form is recognized as a distinct subspecies. Distance estimates indicate that the common ancestor of the two subspecies lived more than one glacial cycle ago, and the refugial populations have probably been diverging in isolation for five or six glacial cycles (approximately equal to 550,000 years). Comparisons are made to the analysis of a similar data set using an anonymous nuclear DNA marker (Cooper et al., 1995). Although the structure revealed is generally very similar, differences in the location of transition zones between different genetic forms of C. parallelus may reflect the different historical assortment of these molecules.
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