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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #396577

Research Project: Development of Ecological Strategies for Invasive Plant Management and Rehabilitation of Western Rangelands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: A new Aculodes species (Prostigmata: Eriophyidae) described from an invasive weed by morphological, morphometric and DNA barcode analyses

item VIDOVIC, BILJANA - University Of Belgrade
item ANDELKOVIC, NIKOLA - University Of Belgrade
item JOJIC, VIDA - University Of Belgrade
item CVRKOVIC, TATJANA - University Of Belgrade
item PETANOVIC, RADMILA - University Of Belgrade
item MARINI, FRANCESCA - Biotechnology And Biological Control Agency
item CRISTOFARO, MASSIMO - Biotechnology And Biological Control Agency
item Rector, Brian

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/22/2022
Publication Date: 9/27/2022
Citation: Vidovic, B., Andelkovic, N., Jojic, V., Cvrkovic, T., Petanovic, R., Marini, F., Cristofaro, M., Rector, B.G. 2022. A new Aculodes species (Prostigmata: Eriophyidae) described from an invasive weed by morphological, morphometric and DNA barcode analyses. Insects. 13(10). Article 877.

Interpretive Summary: Natural enemies of cheatgrass, an invasive plant in the western USA that is associated with recent increases in destructive wildfires, were sought as part of a classical biological control program targeting that plant. A population of mites was discovered infesting cheatgrass plants in central Bulgaria and determined to be a new species using morphological, morphometric analysis (i.e. measurement of specific body parts) and DNA barcoding (i.e. comparison of DNA sequences in genes shared by all mite species). Without these modern analytical tools, this mite would probably have been considered to be the same species as another mite that infests other plants. This new mite species will now be tested to determine if it is suitable for importation and release in the USA as a biological control agent of cheatgrass.

Technical Abstract: A new species of eriophyoid mite, Aculodes marcelli sp. nov., was discovered on cheatgrass, Anisantha tectorum (L.) Nevski (syn. Bromus tectorum L.), an annual grass that is native of Eurasia and Northern Africa. This grass was introduced to North America near the end of the 19th century and now is widespread and associated with the observed increases in the size, frequency, and intensity of wildfires in western N. America. In this paper, A. marcelli sp. nov., is morphologically described and illustrated. Compared with other Aculodes spp., it differs on the basis of morphology and the sequence of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase gene, subunit I (MT-CO1). Results of morphometric analysis showed clear differentiation between A. marcelli sp. nov., and the most similar congener, A. altamurgiensis from Taeniatherum caput-medusae. Analysis of MT-CO1 sequence divergence revealed significant levels of genetic variation (17.7%) and supported the results from the morphometric analysis, so it is determined that they are two different species. Aculodes marcelli sp. nov., is a new candidate agent for classical biological control of A. tectorum.