Research Article: Natural enemies of armored scales (Hemiptera: Diaspididae) and soft scales (Hemiptera: Coccidae) in Chile: Molecular and morphological identification

Date Published: March 18, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Paul Amouroux, Didier Crochard, Margarita Correa, Géraldine Groussier, Philippe Kreiter, Carola Roman, Emilio Guerrieri, Antonio Garonna, Thibaut Malausa, Tania Zaviezo, Feng Zhang.


Scale insects (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Coccomorpha) are key pests of agricultural crops and ornamental plants worldwide. Their populations are difficult to control, even with insecticides, due to their cryptic habits. Moreover, there is growing concern over the use of synthetic pesticides for their control, due to deleterious environmental effects and the emergence of resistant populations of target pests. In this context, biological control may be an effective and sustainable approach. Hymenoptera Chalcidoidea includes natural enemies of scale insects that have been successfully used in many biological control programs. However, the correct identification of pest scale species and their natural enemies is particularly challenging because these insects are very small and highly specialized. Integrative taxonomy, coupling DNA barcoding and morphological analysis, has been successfully used to characterize pests and natural enemy species. In this study, we performed a survey of parasitoids and predators of armored and soft scales in Chile, based on 28S and COI barcodes. Fifty-three populations of Diaspididae and 79 populations of Coccidae were sampled over the entire length of the country, from Arica (18°S) to Frutillar (41°S), between January 2015 and February 2016. The phylogenetic relationships obtained by Bayesian inference from multilocus haplotypes revealed 41 putative species of Chalcidoidea, five Coccinellidae and three Neuroptera. Species delimitation was confirmed using ABGD, GMYC and PTP model. In Chalcidoidea, 23 species were identified morphologically, resulting in new COI barcodes for 12 species and new 28S barcodes for 14 species. Two predator species (Rhyzobius lophantae and Coccidophilus transandinus) were identified morphologically, and two parasitoid species, Chartocerus niger and Signiphora bifasciata, were recorded for the first time in Chile.

Partial Text

Scale insects (Hemiptera:Sternorrhyncha: Coccomorpha) are key pests of crops and ornamental plants worldwide. Diaspididae, Pseudococcidae, and Coccidae are the three most important families of Coccomorpha, with 421, 259 and 173 genera, respectively [1]. The control of these pests is still based essentially on repeated applications of synthetic insecticides, raising concerns about insecticide resistance in pests and possible effects on human health [2,3]. A more sustainable approach to the management of these pests involves the use of resident natural enemies or the introduction of exotic ones (biological control), either alone or together with other control methods (integrated pest management) [4]. The efficacy of biological control is dependent on the correct identification of both the target pest and its natural enemies [4]. However, the morphological identification of scale insects requires considerable expertise, as it is based largely on microscopic cuticular characters visible only on adult females in most species. Genetic analyses have recently been added to the morphological approach for the integrative characterization of insects, and seem to be the only tool able to separate closely related species reliably [5,6]. For example, DNA barcoding is a complementary tool for pest identification regardless of sex or developmental stage. This approach has recently been successfully applied to scale insects, with the molecular identification established for armored and soft scales in Chile [7] and for the mealybugs associated with grapes in Chile and elsewhere, worldwide [8–10].

We report COI and 28S barcode sequences for parasitoids and predators of armored and soft scales from Chile, which will facilitate the identification of these species in the future. Two Signiphoridae species new to Chile were recorded, and potential new species were detected. Host-parasitoid associations merit greater attention, to improve our understanding of the potential role of some species in the biological control of insect pests. Further research could focus on little studied groups, such as Signiphoridae, and on natural enemies of native scale insects. A deeper knowledge of the biology of the most promising biological control agents is required, together with additional information about possible interactions between species attacking the same host.




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