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Cryptic diversity within grass-associated Abacarus species complex (Acariformes: Eriophyidae), with the description of a new species, Abacarus plumiger n. sp.

Laska, Alicja, Majer, Agnieszka, Szydło, Wiktoria, Karpicka-Ignatowska, Kamila, Hornyák, Marta, Labrzycka, Anna, Skoracka, Anna
Experimental & applied acarology 2018 v.76 no.1 pp. 1-28
Abacarus hystrix, Acariformes, Bayesian theory, Bromus inermis, acarology, cryptic speciation, genetic distance, genetic variation, grasses, host range, hosts, mites, mitochondrial DNA, models, new species, species richness
Accurate estimation of species richness is often complex as genetic divergence is not always accompanied by appreciable morphological differentiation. In consequence, cryptic lineages or species evolve. Cryptic speciation is common especially in taxa characterized by small and simplified bodies, what makes their proper identification challenging. The cereal rust mite, Abacarus hystrix, was regarded for a long time as a species associated with a wide range of grass hosts, whereas wide host ranges are rather rare in eriophyoid mites. Therefore, the generalist status of A. hystrix was questioned. In this paper we demonstrate that the diversity within Abacarus species associated with grasses is more complex than it was previously thought. The 78 Abacarus mtDNA COI sequences used in this study formed 10 highly supported clades (bootstrap value 99%) and four more distinct genetic lineages were represented by unique sequences. The genetic distances between them ranged from 6.6 to 26.5%. Moreover, morphological study and genetic approach based on the combination of the Poisson Tree Processes model for species delimitation (PTP) and a Bayesian implementation of PTP (bPTP), and Neighbour Joining analyses led to delimitation of a new species within the Abacarus complex: Abacarus plumiger, specialized on smooth brome (Bromus inermis). Furthermore, our analyses demonstrated a pattern of host-associated differentiation within the complex. Overall, our study indicates that cryptic speciation occurs in the grass-associated Abacarus genus, and suggests the need for more extensive sampling using integrative methods.