Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Determination of biotypes of Dactylopius tomentosus (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) and insights into the taxonomic relationships of their hosts, Cylindropuntia spp.

Abstract

Host specialization to form biotypes is common among phytophagous insects, and it has been hypothesised that biotypes of Dactylopius tomentosus L. (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) occur. D. tomentosus is an important biological control agent for Cylindropuntia cacti when they occur as weeds. Additionally, there is uncertainty surrounding the taxonomic status of some species of Cylindropuntia. This study aimed to confirm the existence of D. tomentosus biotypes and to assess whether host specialization can help to resolve this systematic uncertainty. For this study, the host specificity and performance of ten provenances of D. tomentosus collected from C. cholla, C. fulgida var. fulgida, C. imbricata, C. f. var. mamillata, C. rosea and C. tunicata and reared on C. cholla, C. fulgida var. fulgida, C. imbricata and C. rosea were investigated. Five life-history parameters were measured including: crawler development time and survival, female development time, and the weight and number of eggs produced by females. Results revealed significant variation in host specificity with provenances either thriving, surviving or dying on the different hosts, thus demonstrating the existence of biotypes. Also, host specificity was related to host species and not to the geographic locality from which either the host or provenance was sourced. These findings suggest that the characteristics of Cylindropuntia species may differ sufficiently, there by presenting different selection pressures that induce and sustain distinct biotypes of D. tomentosus. The observed host use patterns of the biotypes separated the plant species into two groups that accorded with known phylogenetic relationships among Cylindropuntia species, suggesting that biotypes can be used to elucidate their taxonomic relatedness. Besides advancing our knowledge of the ecology and evolution of D. tomentosus, these novel findings have important implications for the biological control of Cylindropuntia species.