Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 2391–2402 | Cite as

Population structure of the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, shows two expansions across China

  • Qian Tang
  • Hong Jiang
  • Yangsheng Li
  • Thomas Bourguignon
  • Theodore Alfred Evans
Original Paper


The German cockroach is one of the world’s most widespread invasive species. From uncertain origins, it appears in historical records in Europe over 300 years ago, with the first records in China date from 100 years ago. Since the 1990s, the German cockroach has dominated indoor environments across China. A genetic analysis of 599 individuals from nine cities across China found two genetic clusters; one dominant in the North and the other dominant the in South of the country. Weak but significantly positive isolation by distance was observed for the entire country; however, when broken into different geographical scales, the significantly positive correlation can be only observed in between cities or city to suburb range (10–221 km). Two factors may have contributed to the spread of the German cockroach in China, which correspond to these two clusters: central heating systems in the north built during the 1960s, and air-conditioning systems in the south built during in the 1990s. The spread of modern, long distance transport systems, such as railways, may have contributed to the lack of geographic patterns, yet it is likely that other factors have been important in determining patterns.


Urban pest Human-mediated dispersal Population genetics Microsatellite 



For providing samples, we thank Tan Eng Kooi, Bayer Singapore, Singapore; Wu Xifeng, Shenyang; Mr. Nan, Sinopest Co. Ltd, Beijing; Wang Jiansheng, Best Pest Control Co. Ltd., Nanjing; Mo Yuan, Chongqing; Pan Qiang, Huaguan Pest Control Co. Ltd., Guangzhou. This work is supported by NUS (National University of Singapore, Singapore) Research Scholarship from Ministry of Education, Singapore and the Lee Hiok Kwee Endowed Fund of the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore. Thomas Bourguignon was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Sydney.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10530_2016_1170_MOESM1_ESM.docx (159 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 159 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qian Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hong Jiang
    • 3
  • Yangsheng Li
    • 4
  • Thomas Bourguignon
    • 1
    • 5
    • 7
  • Theodore Alfred Evans
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.SingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Department of Medical Parasitology, School of Basic Medicine ScienceWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Genetics, College of Life SciencesWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.School of Animal BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  7. 7.Faculty of Forestry and Wood SciencesCzech University of Life SciencesPragueCzech Republic

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