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Small Subunit rDNA-Based Phylogeny of the Tylenchida Sheds Light on Relationships Among Some High-Impact Plant-Parasitic Nematodes and the Evolution of Plant Feeding

March 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  3
Pages  227 - 235

M. Holterman, G. Karssen, S. van den Elsen, H. van Megen, J. Bakker, and J. Helder

First, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth authors: Laboratory of Nematology, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, Binnenhaven 5, 6709 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands; and second author: Plant Protection Service, Nematology Section, Geertjesweg 15, 6706 EA Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Accepted for publication 22 October 2008.

Cyst (Heteroderidae), root knot (Meloidogyne spp.), and lesion (Pratylenchus spp.) nematodes all belong to a single nematode order, Tylenchida. However, the relationships between and within these economically highly relevant groups, and their relatedness to other parasitic Tylenchida is unclear. We constructed a phylogeny of 116 Tylenchida taxa based on full length small subunit ribosomal DNA (small subunit [SSU] rDNA) sequences. Ancestral state reconstruction points at a gradual development of simple to more complex forms of plant parasitism. Good resolution was observed in distal clades that include cyst, root knot, and lesion nematodes, and monophyly of most families was confirmed. Our data suggest that root knot nematodes have evolved from an ancestral member of the genus Pratylenchus, but it remains unclear which species is closest to this branching point. Contrary to the notoriously polyphagous distal representatives, basal members of the genus Meloidogyne (and probably, their common ancestor) have narrow host ranges. Our analysis also shows that mitotic parthenogeny has arisen at least two times independently among root knot nematodes. In many cases resolution till species was observed, suggesting that SSU rDNA sequences have a potential for DNA barcode-based species identification with, due to the overall conserved nature of this gene, limited intra-species variation.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society