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Are Altica carduorum and Altica cirsicola (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) different species? Implications for the release of A. cirsicola for the biocontrol of Canada thistle in Canada






Biological Control 6(3): 306-314

Are Altica carduorum and Altica cirsicola (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) different species? Implications for the release of A. cirsicola for the biocontrol of Canada thistle in Canada

Altica carduorum and Altica cirsicola are two species of leaf-feeding beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) which appear to be morphologically indistinguishable and reportedly hybridize in the laboratory. A European population of A. carduorum was previously screened for host-plant specificity and released in North America for the control of Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense. A population of A. cirsicola from China is currently being considered as a biocontrol agent for C. arvense and, as a different beetle species, must be screened using host-specificity tests similar to those used for A. carduorum. If A. carduorum and A. cirsicola are, in fact, one species, the screening requirements for A. cirsicola could be significantly reduced. Hence, we investigated the taxonomic relationship between A. carduorum and A. cirsicola using morphometric analyses, hybridization experiments, and DNA fingerprinting using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis. Discriminant function analyses indicate that A. carduorum and A. cirsicola cannot be reliably distinguished by their morphologies, and interspecific matings produce fertile F1 offspring. However, because interspecific matings produce significantly fewer offspring than intraspecific matings, and because of clear differences in their DNA profiles, we conclude that A. carduorum and A. cirsicola are separate species. This study serves to highlight the value of genetic analyses in taxonomic studies and their role in biological control programs.

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Accession: 003046080



Related references

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