A preliminary molecular phylogeny shows Japanese and Austrian populations of the red mite Balaustium murorum (Acari: Trombidiformes: Erythraeidae) to be closely related.
The red mite Balaustium murorum (Hermann) inhabits the Western Palaearctic realm and is well adapted to man-made structures. In Japan, B. murorum had been reported more frequently after the 1980s. A molecular phylogeny based on the nuclear 18S rRNA and mitochondrial COI genes, and including B. murorum individuals from Japan and Austria and representatives of related species from Japan showed four Balaustium species-level lineages in Japan (B. murorum, Balaustium sp. 1, Balaustium sp. 2, Balaustium sp. 3). The B. murorum lineage shared identical 18S sequence and COI haplotype with the Austrian population. Balaustium sp. 1 was detected from the Tokyo and Misaki area (Honshu Island) and was the sister group to B. murorum; the other two lineages inhabited coastal environments of Erimo, Hokkaido Island (Balaustium sp. 2) and Ainan, Shikoku Island (Balaustium sp. 3). The high genetic distances among these four lineages indicate that each lineage is a distinct species, with three of the lineages representing undescribed species. Our results are compatible with the conclusion that B. murorum was introduced to Japan from Europe, although our study did not resolve the polarity or timing of migration events.