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Morphological and molecular data support the monophyletic nature of the genus Pratylenchoides Winslow, 1958 (Nematoda: Merliniidae) and reveal its intrageneric structuring

In: Nematology
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  • 1 1Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zanjan, 45371-38791, Zanjan, Iran
  • | 2 2Department of Plant Protection, School of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz, 71441-65186, Iran
  • | 3 3Laboratory of Nematology, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
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The genus Pratylenchoides has recently been transferred from the family Pratylenchidae to Merliniidae. To investigate further the relationship between these ‘Pratylenchus-like’ species (residing in the subfamily Pratylenchoidinae) and the subfamily Merliniinae, more than 500 soil samples were collected from various natural and agronomic habitats in the northern and north-western provinces of Iran. In this study, paratypes or populations of 22 species of Pratylenchoides, including the Iranian populations of P. alkani, P. crenicauda, P. erzurumensis, P. laticauda, P. nevadensis, P. ritteri and an undescribed species, were studied. Intra- and interspecies variation of the following characters were investigated: position of the pharyngeal gland nuclei, shape of female and male head, striation of female tail terminus, number of lateral lines at mid-body and in phasmid region for females, presence of intestinal fasciculi, and shape of sperm. Combining morphological and molecular data prompted us to propose two clusters of related Pratylenchoides species. One cluster includes P. crenicauda, P. variabilis and P. erzurumensis, whereas the second cluster consists of P. alkani, P. nevadensis and P. ritteri. Our data point to a sister positioning of P. magnicauda vis-à-vis all Pratylenchoides species included in this research. Analyses of SSU rDNA (for family and subfamily relationships) and partial LSU rDNA sequences (for intrageneric relationships) data revealed: i) the distal and nested positioning of all Pratylenchoidinae within the Merliniidae; ii) the single transition from ectoparasitism to migratory endoparasitism within the family Merliniidae corresponds with the current subfamily partitioning; and iii) support for the monophyletic nature of the genus Pratylenchoides.

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