Phyllocoptruta oleivora (Acari: Eriophyidae), or the citrus rust mite, is a serious pest of citrus worldwide, but it is particularly important to production areas where citrus fruit is destined to fresh markets. Kenya and Texas both have fruit intended for fresh markets; however Texas fruits are marketed commercially and globally, while fruits in Kenya are sold locally. The development of an effective pest management program to control P. oleivora requires proper species identification. However, P. oleivora’s minute size and poor taxonomic characteristics make proper identification difficult without the aid of a high-powered microscope, and therefore cryptic species can occur. Cryptic species may occur within a citrus tree, citrus grove, variety or geographical area, and different species may respond to pesticides differently to pesticides, which can seriously impede management strategies. The purpose of this study is to assess the population of P. oleivora in Texas and in Kenya utilizing morphological and molecular analysis. The present study demonstrated that P. oleivora populations collected from grapefruits and oranges were found to be morphologically different in Texas. We believe that this is due to phenotypic plasticity caused by interaction with its host species. Comparison of Kenya and Texas populations of P. oleivora, demonstrated that they are phenotypically and genotypically distinct.
January 22, 2016
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