Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

ITS2 sequences as barcodes for identifying and analyzing spider mites (Acari: Tetranychidae).

Abstract

The use of DNA barcodes, short DNA sequences from a standardized region of the genome, has recently been proposed as a tool to facilitate species identification and discovery. Here we show that second internal transcribed spacer of nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA-ITS2) barcodes effectively discriminate among 16 species of spider mites (Acari: Tetranychidae) from Israel. The barcode sequences of each species were unambiguously distinguishable from all other species and formed distinct, nonoverlapping monophyletic groups in the maximum-parsimony tree. Sequence divergences were generally much greater between species than within them. Using a 0.02 (2%) threshold for species diagnosis in our data set, 14 out of 16 species recognized by morphological criteria would be accurately identified. The only exceptions involved the low divergence, 0.011-0.015 (1.1-1.5%), between Tetranychus urticae and Tetranychus turkestani, where speciation may have occurred only recently. Still, these species had fixed alternative rDNA-ITS2 variants, with five diagnostic nucleotide substitutions. As a result, we tentatively conclude that rDNA-ITS2 sequence barcodes may serve as an effective tool for the identification of spider mite species and can be applicable as a diagnostic tool for quarantine and other pest management activities and decision-making. We predict that our work, together with similar efforts, will provide in the future the platform for a uniform, accurate, practical and easy-to-use method of spider mite species identification.