Location: Systematic Entomology
Title: Phylogenetic investigation of the genus Raoiella (Prostigmata: Tenuipalpidae): Diversity, distribution, and world invasions Authors
Submitted to: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 10, 2011
Publication Date: November 13, 2011
Citation: Dowling, A.G., Ochoa, R., Beard, J.J., Welbourn, W.C., Ueckermann, E.A. 2011. Phylogenetic investigation of the genus Raoiella (Prostigmata: Tenuipalpidae): Diversity, distribution, and world invasions. Experimental and Applied Acarology. 57(3-4):257-269. Interpretive Summary: Plant feeding mites cause severe damage to agricultural crops around the world, costing many millions of dollars annually. This paper addresses the present situation concerning the most important invasive flat mite pest species in the Americas, the red palm mite, which attacks several species of palms worldwide. The study also enhances our understanding of its relatives, which feed on different plant families, with the use of morphology and molecular data. The information presented on the ecology, distribution and biology of the red palm mite and its relatives will be beneficial for biologists, entomologists, zoologists, quarantine officers and students.
Technical Abstract: The genus Raoiella is most well known because of the red palm mite, R. indica, a major pest of palms spreading aggressively throughout the Americas. Not much was known about the biology, geographic origins, or evolutionary history of the genus when R. indica emerged as a major invasive pest. This paper attempts to address some of the basic historical questions regarding the palm mite as well as the genus. This study uses molecular characters from COI and 28S regions were used to produce a phylogenetic hypothesis for the genus in an effort to understand its geographic origin of the genus. It also uses COI barcode data to delimit several potentially new species discovered by the authors in Australia. Results show a basal split between R. indica and all other Raoiella species which points to Africa or the Middle East as the most probable origin of the genus. Additionally, COI data suggests that at least eight new species are represented amongst the 20 Australian populations included in this study.