Molecular characterization of Gonatocerus tuberculifemur (Ogloblin) (Hymenoptera : Mymaridae), a prospective Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar) (Hemiptera : Cicadellidae) biological control candidate agent from South America: divergent clades
We genetically characterized the prospective South American egg parasitoid candidate, Gonatocerus tuberculifemur, of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), Homalodisca vitripennis, for a neoclassical biological control program in California. Two molecular methods, inter-simple sequence repeat-polymerase chain reaction DNA fingerprinting and a phylogeographic approach inferred from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene (COI), were utilized. Five geographic populations from South America were analyzed; in addition, a phylogenetic analysis was performed with several named and one unnamed Gonatocerus species using the COI gene. DNA fingerprinting demonstrated a fixed geographic banding pattern difference in the population from San Rafael, Mendoza Province, Argentina. The COI analysis uncovered haplotype or geographic structure in G. tuberculifemur. A neighbour-joining distance (NJ) and a single most parsimonious tree (MP) clustered the populations into two well-supported distinct clades with strong bootstrap values (97-99% and 92-99%, respectively) with populations from San Rafael clustering into clade 2 and the rest of the populations clustering into clade 1. No haplotype sharing was observed between individuals from the two clades. Phylogenetic analyses performed by NJ and MP methods with 15 Gonatocerus species confirmed species boundaries and again uncovered two distinct clades in G. tuberculifemur with strong bootstrap support (95-100% and 68-100%, respectively). However, the NJ tree supported the morphologically defined relationships better than the MP tree. The molecular evidence in the present Study is suggestive of a species level divergence. Because C. tuberculifemur, is under consideration as a potential biological control agent for GWSS in California, understanding cryptic variation in this species is critical.