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Ditylenchus gallaeformans sp. n. (Tylenchida: Anguinidae) – a neotropical nematode with biocontrol potential against weedy Melastomataceae

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Ditylenchus gallaeformans sp. n. was found on several hosts at numerous locations in Brazil and Costa Rica. In its native habitats it attacks several genera in the Melastomataceae, including two species ranked as among the worst invasive weeds of Pacific island forests, namely Miconia calvescens and Clidemia hirta. The new species causes a severe disease on infected plants involving the formation of gall-like structures on infected leaves, inflorescences and stems, and may cause significant impact on its hosts. Morphological study using light and scanning electron microscopy and analysis of the partial 18S rRNA, the D2-D3 expansion fragments of 28S rRNA and the ITS rRNA gene sequences showed little variations between populations from different hosts or geographical origins. The molecular study revealed that the new species is related to D. drepanocercus, which was recently found in association with M. calvescens but causing angular leaf spots on this host. Ditylenchus gallaeformans sp. n. is distinguished from D. drepanocercus by having a bursa reaching the tail tip (vs covering around 50% of tail in D. drepanocercus) and a conical tail, regularly tapering towards a variable tip (vs tail with a distinctive apical falciform appendage in both sexes in D. drepanocercus). PCR with species-specific primers was developed for diagnostics of both Ditylenchus species. Ditylenchus gallaeformans sp. n. deserves further investigation as a potential biocontrol agent against M. calvescens and C. hirta.

Affiliations: 1: 1Departamento de Fitopatologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG, 36570-000, Brazil; 2: 2Leibniz Universität Hannover, Institut für Pflanzenkrankheiten, Herrenhäuser Straße 2, D-30419 Hannover, Germany; 3: 3Laboratorio de Nematologia, Faculdad de Agronomia, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica; 4: 6Nematologia CIIDIR-IPN, Unidad Sinaloa, Mexico; 5: 7Departamento de Botânica, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Cx.P. 19031, Curitiba, PR 81531-70, Brazil


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