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Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) sequences of some Kampimodromus (Acari: Phytoseiidae) species: Is Kampimodromus ragusai a valid species or a synonym of Kampimodromus aberrans?

Ismail Doker, Kamil Karut, Mete M. Karaca, Elena Cargnus, Cengiz Kazak


Taxonomy of the most important predatory mite family Phytoseiidae (Acari: Mesostigmata) is essentially based on morphological observations, and only a few studies use molecular approaches. In some cases, tiny morphological differences (e.g. number of teeth on cheliceral digits, presence of dorsal solenostomes) should be observed for accurate species identification. Kampimodromus ragusai Swirski & Amitai, originally described from Israel, was suspected as a junior synonym of K. aberrans (Oudemans) in an earlier study. The only difference between these two species is the presence or absence of a tooth on the movable digit (MD) of chelicera. In this study, we conducted molecular analyses, using the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) marker, to determine whether K. ragusai is synonymous to K. aberrans or a valid species. DNA sequences of several populations of three other Kampimodromus species collected from Croatia and Italy were included to the study. ITS sequences of other Kampimodromus species deposited in the public GenBank database were also used. Results revealed a 5% genetic distance between K. ragusai and K. aberrans (Jukes & Cantor model). In the phylogenetic tree, K. ragusai is located in a different clade clearly separated from all other K. aberrans. Therefore, these results validate that K. ragusai and K. aberrans are altogether two distinct species. Presence or absence of a tooth on MD of chelicera is a reliable morphological character to differentiate these two species. Additionally, a GenBank sequence deposited as K. aberrans is identical to K. corylosus Kolodochka. This result clearly demonstrates the importance of combining molecular and morphological data to phytoseiid taxonomy, and the need to generate reliable data in publicly available gene bank databases.


Kampimodromus, Phytoseiidae, ITS, movable digit dentition, phylogenetic tree


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An international journal of the Systematic and Applied Acarology Society

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