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Description of Mesocriconema ericaceum n. sp. (Nematoda: Criconematidae) and notes on other nematode species discovered in an ericaceous heath bald community in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA

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A new species of Mesocriconema and a unique assemblage of plant-parasitic nematodes was discovered in a heath bald atop Brushy Mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mesocriconema ericaceum n. sp., a species with males, superficially resembles M. xenoplax. DNA barcoding with the mitochondrial COI gene provided evidence of the new species as a distinct lineage. SEM revealed significant variability in arrangement of labial submedian lobes, plates, and anterior and posterior annuli. Three other nematodes in the family Criconematidae were characterised from the heath bald. Ogma seymouri, when analysed by statistical parsimony, established connections with isolates from north-eastern Atlantic coastal and north-western Pacific coastal wet forests. Criconema loofi has a southern Gulf Coast distribution associated with boggy soils. Criconema cf. acriculum is known from northern coastal forests of California. Understanding linkages between these species and their distribution may lead to the broader development of a terrestrial soil nematode biogeography.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0722, USA

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