Genetic variability among native and introduced strains of the parasitic nematode Deladenus siricidicola.
Sirex noctilio is an invasive Eurasian woodwasp that can kill pine (Pinus spp.) trees and has been introduced to areas of the Southern Hemisphere where plantations of introduced pines are grown. The main method of control of this invasive pest has been introduction and augmentation of a parasitic nematode, Deladenus siricidicola. The strain of D. siricidicola used for biological control of S. noctilio in the Southern Hemisphere originated in Sopron, Hungary. The genotype of D. siricidicola used for biological control sterilizes females of the strain of S. noctilio present in Australia. However, different strains of S. noctilio have been introduced to different geographic areas that have been invaded and different combinations of D. siricidicola and S. noctilio genotypes vary in whether these nematodes sterilize female S. noctilio. Moreover, even in the event of sterilization, partial sterilization can occur, where not all woodwasp eggs are compromised. Sirex noctilio has now invaded North America accidentally, putatively accompanying D. siricidicola, but these host/parasite pairings do not result in female sterilization. More information is needed about the genetic diversity of D. siricidicola both where it is native and introduced. In addition, the host range of these nematodes is necessary to understand to evaluate their potential use in areas where pine communities are native. We collected and evaluated Deladenus parasitizing S. noctilio, S. juvencus, and associated insects in Hungary, Denmark, Spain, and Italy, as well as in the United States. Phylogenetic analyses were unable to fully provide fine resolution, although some community structure was evident. Many D. siricidicola samples from Hungary had identical COI and ITS sequences to the strain of D. siricidicola accidentally introduced to North America putatively when S. noctilio invaded. The same or similar strains of D. siricidicola parasitize two different Sirex species that utilize pines as well as a Sirex parasitoid and a pine-boring beetle, demonstrating some limited variability in host specificity of this species. These results highlight the genetic diversity of Deladenus siricidicola in its native range in Europe.