Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 373–401 | Cite as

Integrative taxonomy of Abacarus mites (Eriophyidae) associated with hybrid sugarcane plants, including description of a new species

  • Mércia Elias Duarte
  • Renata Santos de Mendonça
  • Anna Skoracka
  • Edmilson Santos Silva
  • Denise NaviaEmail author


Phytophagous mites belonging to the Eriophyoidea are extremely diverse and highly host-specific. Their accurate morphological identification is hampered by their reduced size and simplified bodies and by the existence of cryptic species complexes. Previous studies have demonstrated the urgency of applying multisource methods to accurate taxonomic identification of eriophyoid mites, especially species belonging to the genus Abacarus. This genus comprises 65 species, of which 37 are associated with grasses and four with sugarcane Saccharum (Poaceae). Recently, Abacarus specimens very similar to Abacarus sacchari were collected from the sugarcane crop in Brazil; however, their taxonomic placement was uncertain. In this study, we used an integrative approach to determine whether A. aff. sacchari specimens belong to A. sacchari or constitute a cryptic species. Morphological data were combined with molecular phylogeny based on the nucleotide sequences of three markers, one mitochondrial (COI) and two nuclear (D2 region of 28S and ITS). Morphological differences were observed between A. aff. sacchari, A. sacchari and A. doctus. The phylogenetic relationships among these three taxa and the genetic distances separating them revealed an interspecific divergence. The results of the morphological and molecular methods were congruent and supported the existence of a new species: Abacarus neosacchari n. sp. Duarte and Navia, herein described. This species belongs to the Abacarus cryptic species complex associated with sugarcane in the Americas. The results of this study, presenting the occurrence of multiple Abacarus species associated with sugarcane, contribute to the knowledge on plants and mites diversity by adding up one more clue highlighting that plant hybridization can be an important mechanism contributing to the speciation of plant-feeding arthropods.


Phytophagous mite Eriophyoidea Molecular phylogeny Multivariate morphometry Saccharum 



We sincerely thank Dr. Elisângela Gomes Fidelis, Embrapa Roraima, Roraima; Dra. Ranyse Barbosa Querino da Silva, Embrapa Meio Norte, Piauí; Dr. Elio Cesar Guzzo, Embrapa Tabuleiros Costeiros, Alagoas, Brazil; Mr. Felipe Alfredo Cerón Martí, Ingênio Central Izalco, Sonsonate, El Salvador; Dr. Hugo Aguilar Piedra, Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica, for their help with sampling. To ‘Coordenadoria de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal do Ensino Superior’ (CAPES) for the financial support to R.S. Mendonça (PNPD/Agronomia Proc. No. 88882.305808/2018-1), to Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Alagoas (FAPEAL) and to Fundação de Apoio à Pesquisa do Distrito Federal (FAPDF) for the fellowship to the first author, to ‘Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq)’, Brazil, for granting the fellowship to the first and last authors.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e BiotecnologiaBrasiliaBrazil
  2. 2.Faculdade de Agronomia e Medicina VeterináriaUniversidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  3. 3.Population Ecology Lab, Faculty of Biology, Institute of Environmental BiologyAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland
  4. 4.Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Campus ArapiracaArapiracaBrazil
  5. 5.Universidade Federal de Alagoas, Centro de Ciências Agrárias (CECA)AlagoasBrazil

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