Reproductive compatibility and genetic and morphometric variability among populations of the predatory mite, Amblyseius largoensis (Acari: Phytoseiidae), from Indian Ocean Islands and the Americas.
The red palm mite (RPM), Raoiella indica Hirst (Acari: Tenuipalpidae), is an invasive phytophagous mite that was recently introduced into The Americas. The predatory mite Amblyseius largoensis Muma (Acari: Phytoseiidae) has been the only natural enemy consistently found in association with RPM. This study aimed to determine if A. largoensis populations from the Indian Ocean Islands (La Réunion and Mauritius) and the Americas (Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA) consist a taxonomic unit or a group of cryptic species. First, the morphological variability among the A. largoensis populations from these areas was evaluated through morphometric analyses of 36 morphological traits. Then, their genetic variability and phylogenetic relationships were assessed based on two target DNA fragments: the nuclear Internal Transcribed Spacer and the mithochondrial 12S rRNA. Finally, reproductive compatibility of the populations from La Réunion and Roraima, Brazil was evaluated. Morphometric differences between the A. largoensis specimens from La Réunion Island and the Americas were observed, most of them on the length of the setae. Molecular analysis indicated that the A. largoensis populations from the Indian Ocean Islands and the Americas belong to the same taxonomic entity, although to two well defined genetic groups. Crossings involving the A. largoensis populations from La Réunion Island and Roraima, Brazil revealed complete reproductive compatibility between these populations. Information on the morphometric and genetic variability among studied A. largoensis populations can be further exploited in future studies to follow colonization of Indian Ocean Islands populations in the Americas, in the case of field releases.