Occurrence of Panagrellus (Rhabditida: Panagrolaimidae) Nematodes in a Morphologically Aberrant Adult Specimen of Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae)

Manuela Camerota, Giuseppe Mazza, Lynn K. Carta, Francesco Paoli, Giulia Torrini, Claudia Benvenuti, Beatrice Carletti, Valeria Francardi, Pio Federico Roversi

Abstract


An aberrant specimen of Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae) also known as red palm weevil (RPW), the most economically important insect pest of palms in the world, was found among a batch of conspecifics reared for research purposes. A morphological analysis of this weevil revealed the presence of nematodes associated with a structured cuticle defect of the thorax. These nematodes were not able to be cultured, but were characterized by molecular analysis using 28S and 18S ribosomal DNA and shown to belong to the family Panagrolaimidae (Rhabditida), within a clade of Panagrellus. While most nematodes in the insect were juveniles, a single male adult was partially characterized by light microscopy. Morphometrics showed similarities to a species described from Germany. Excluding the entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN), only five other genera of entomophilic or saprophytic rhabditid nematodes are associated with this weevil. This is the first report of panagrolaimid nematodes associated with this invasive pest. Possible mechanisms of nematode-insect association are discussed.

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