Discrimination of the closely related biocontrol agents Macrolophus melanotoma (Hemiptera : Miridae) and M-pygmaeus using mitochondrial DNA analysis
AuthorPerdikis, D. C.; Margaritopoulos, J. T.; Stamatis, C.; Mamuris, Z.; Lykouressis, D. P.; Tsitsipis, J. A.; Pekas, A.
The separation of the closely related predatory species Macrolophus melanotoma Costa (= M. caliginosus Wagner) and Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur) based exclusively on the different colour pattern of the first antennal segment (white central band in M. melanotoma and entirely black in M. pygmaeus) is rather precarious and their taxonomic status is still in doubt. In the present study their taxonomic status was evaluated by DNA confirmatory analysis and hybridization experiments between M. pygmaeus and a Macrolophus taxon, resembling M. melanotoma, with a first antennal segment entirely black or with a white central band collected from Dittrichia viscosa (L.) W. Greuter (Asteraceae) in southern Greece. Adult females from Dittrichia plants hybridized with males of M. pygmaeus and vice versa did not produce viable eggs. The Macrolophus species from Dittrichia irrespective of the first antennal segment coloration differed from M. pygmaeus in digestive patterns generated by AseI, XbaI, and MseI on 16S rRNA and in RAPID profiles produced by the primers OPA-18 and OPA-20. These results demonstrate that on Dittrichia plants there is a distinct dimorphic taxon, M. melanotoma, as it is the only species of the genus Macrolophus bearing a first antennal segment with a central white band. Given the limitation of the coloration pattern, the mtDNA genetic markers are the appropriate method for the identification of M. melanotoma and M. pygmaeus.