The First Report for the Presence of Spiroplasma and Rickettsia in Red Palm Weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in Egypt



The study of the Red Palm Weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier), as an invasive pest of palm trees.


In this study, 36 RPW individuals were collected from 6 different locations in Egypt. The presences of endosymbionts in the RPW individuals were assayed. The phylogenetic analysis of the RPW inhabiting Egypt was conducted using Cytochrome c oxidase sub-unit 1 (CO1) gene.


Spiroplasma was found, for the first time, in all individuals, while Rickettsia was found, for the first time, in individuals collected from only 3 of the 6 locations. Endosymbionts harbouring Egyptian RPW were closely related to those harbouring Diptera and\or Trombidiformes associated with palm trees. This may be due to horizontal transmission through palm sap or through ectoparasites living on the RPW. Finally, the phylogenetic analysis of the RPW inhabiting Egypt was conducted. The collected individuals were closely related to Saudi Arabia specimens collected from the eastern region. Thus, Saudi Arabia may be the origin of the RPW which invaded Egypt. Individuals from populations inhabiting the same geographical locations were closely related. This may be due to secondary invasion incidents that may have taken place through transportation of infested date palm trees and offshoots from infected to uninfected locations.


This study reports the first incidence for the presence and coexistence of Spiroplasma and Rickettsia in RPW collected from Egypt. In addition, it was found that the collected individuals of RPW were closely related to a Saudi haplotype. Thus, Saudi Arabia may be the origin of infection which invaded Egypt.

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Availability of data and material

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].


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It is our great pleasure to acknowledge the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education to finance short term scholarships for young Egyptian scientists (Scientific Missions) to Dr. Mona Awad in the Czech Republic. The authors would like to thank the CESNET LM2015042 and the CERIT Scientific Cloud LM2015085, provided under the programme "Projects of Large Research, Development, and Innovations Infrastructures" for providing the computational cloud for performing the bioinformatic analyses.


This work was supported by the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education Fund Dr Mona Awad acknowledges receipt of a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the short term scholarships for young Egyptian scientists (Scientific Missions) in 2018. The sequencing was funded by [ERDF/ESF Centre for research of pathogenicity, and virulence of parasites] grant number [No.CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000759]. Computational resources were provided by the ELIXIR-CZ project (LM2015047), part of the international ELIXIR infrastructure.

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MA, AS and SE conceived the research. MA and AS acquired funding. MA, AS and OE performed the experiments. AS performed the bioinformatics analyses. MA, AS, SE and OE drafted the manuscript. All authors revised the first draft and read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sherif M. Elnagdy.

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Awad, M., Sharaf, A., Elrahman, T.A. et al. The First Report for the Presence of Spiroplasma and Rickettsia in Red Palm Weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) in Egypt. Acta Parasit. (2021).

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  • Coexistence
  • Endosymbiotic bacteria
  • Date palm
  • Invasive species
  • Red palm weevil
  • Rhynchophorus ferrugineu