In this study, molecular (ribosomal sequence data), morphological and cross-hybridization properties were used to identify a new Steinernema sp. from Florida, USA. Molecular and morphological data provided evidence for placing the novel species into Clade V, or the ‘glaseri-group’ of Steinernema spp. Within this clade, analysis of sequence data of the rDNA genes, 28S and internal transcribed spacer (ITS), depicted the novel species as a distinctive entity and closely related to S. glaseri and S. cubanum. Additionally, cross-hybridization assays showed that the new species is unable to interbreed with either of the latter two species, reinforcing its uniqueness from a biological species concept standpoint. Key morphological diagnostic characters for S. khuongi n. sp. include the mean morphometric features of the third-stage infective juveniles: total body length (average: 1066 μm), tail length (average: 65 μm), location of the excretory pore (average: 80.5 μm) and the values of c (average: 16.4), D% (average: 60.5), E% (average: 126) and H% (average: 46.6). Additionally, males can be differentiated from S. glaseri and S. cubanum by the values of several ratios: D% (average: 68), E% (average: 323) and SW% (average: 120). The natural distribution of this species in Florida encompasses both natural areas and citrus groves, primarily in shallow groundwater ecoregions designated as ‘flatwoods’. The morphological, molecular, phylogenetic and ecological data associated with this nematode support its identity as a new species in the S. glaseri-group.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology