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Speciation within Nacobbus: consilience or controversy?

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For more content, see Nematologica.

Although Nacobbus aberrans, the false root-knot nematode, is endemic to the American continent, it justifies the attention granted by international quarantine regulations due to its broad host-range and economic importance in crops such as potato, tomato and sugarbeet. Until recently, it was widely accepted that the genus Nacobbus included only two valid species: N. aberrans and N. dorsalis. Traditionally, criteria to identify and separate the species have been based on morphology, host-range and some biological features. Molecular characterisation of populations can help to identify species that are otherwise almost impossible to segregate and has provided information that has identified aggregates of species or groups within the N. aberrans complex. This information needs to be integrated with knowledge already provided by non-molecular methodologies in order to establish a robust and workable framework that facilitates the assessment and assignment of nematode populations to an identifiable species, subspecies or group. The current molecular data indicate that the traditional two species paradigm is outdated and demand a re-assessment of the taxonomic status of the N. aberrans species complex. Whether molecular-based clades are recognised at specific rank or not, sequence analysis opens the door to reliable and incontrovertible diagnostics, a prerequisite for sustainable management practices and international quarantine regulations pertaining to the genus.

Affiliations: 1: Nematode Interactions Unit, Plant Pathology and Microbiology Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK


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