|Poinar, Jr., George|
Submitted to: Systematic Parasitology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2007
Publication Date: 10/1/2007
Citation: Poinar, Jr., G.O., Porter, S.D., Tang, S., Hyman, B.C. 2007. Allomermis solenopsii n. sp. (Mermithidae: Nematoda) parasitizing the fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Argentina. Systematic Parasitology.68(2):115-128. Interpretive Summary: Red imported fire ants are a major pest species in the southern United States. Self-sustaining biological control agents from South America offer the hope of permanent wide-area control of this pest because fire ant populations in South America, where natural enemies are common, are 1/5 the density that they are in the United States where natural enemies are much less common. While searching for new natural enemies, a research entomologist from the USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida discovered a new species of mermithid nematode attacking fire ants in Argentina. This nematode was cultured from juveniles to adults to eggs. With the help of scientists from Oregon State Univerisity and the University of California, this nematode was formally described and given the scientific name of Allomermis solenopsii, (Mermithidae: Nematoda). This is the first record of Allomermis from South America and the first host record for members of this genus. Placement in the genus Allomermis was confirmed by molecular analysis based on ribosomal DNA sequences. The discovery of this nematode and its life cycle opens the possibility that this new species could be released as a biological control agent for imported fire ants in the United States if further tests prove that it will be sufficiently host specific so that it will not pose a threat to animals in the United States.
Technical Abstract: A new species of mermithid nematode, Allomermis solenopsii, (Mermithidae: Nematoda) is described from the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Argentina. This is the first record of Allomermis from South America and the first host record for members of this genus. Previous records of mermithids from Solenopsis spp. are summarized. Placement in the genus Allomermis Steiner was confirmed by molecular analysis based on nuclear 18S ribosomal DNA sequences. The possible life cycle of the parasite is discussed, with the aim of using A. solenopsii as a biological control agent of fire ants in the United States.