Bulletin of Entomological Research

Research Paper

Molecular markers indicate that the wheat curl mite, Aceria tosichella Keifer, may represent a species complex in Australia

M. Carewa1 c1, M. Schiffera1, P. Uminaa1, A. Weeksa2 and A. Hoffmanna1a2

a1 Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010 Australia

a2 Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010 Australia

Abstract

The wheat curl mite (WCM), Aceria tosichella Keifer, is an eriophyoid pest of cereals, and the vector responsible for transmitting wheat streak mosaic virus. Several authors have suggested cryptic species of this mite identified through morphological variation, but this has never been conclusively demonstrated. Here, we use the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene and two nuclear markers (internal transcribed spacer 1 and adenine nucleotide translocase) to show that WCM from Australia consists of at least two separate lineages that may represent putative species. In our study, both WCM variants were widespread and the only eriophyoids found on wheat varieties. The WCM variants were also found on alternate host plants, including some plants not known to host WCM. These results have implications for the control of this pest within Australian cereal crops.

(Accepted September 03 2008)

(Online publication February 19 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence Fax: +61 3 8344 2279 E-mail: mecarew@unimelb.edu.au