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Newly Emerging Pest in China, Rhynchaenusmaculosus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): Morphology and Molecular Identification with DNA Barcoding

Published: 21 June 2021
 by  MDPI
 in Insects
Insects , Volume 12; doi:10.3390/insects12060568

Abstract: The oak flea weevil, Rhynchaenusmaculosus Yang et Zhang 1991, is a newly emerging pest that severely damages oak (genus Quercus) in China. The first R. maculosus outbreak occurred in 2020 and caused spectacular damage to all oak forests in Jilin province, northeast China. The lack of key morphological characters complicates the identification of this native pest, especially in larva and pupa stages. This is problematic because quick and accurate species identification is crucial for early monitoring and intervention during outbreaks. Here, we provided the first detailed morphological description of R. maculosus at four life stages. Additionally, we used DNA barcodes from larva and pupa specimens collected from three remote locations for molecular identification. The average pairwise divergence of all sequences in this study was 0.51%, well below the 2% to 3% (K-2-parameter) threshold set for one species. All sample sequences matched the R. maculosus morphospecies (KX657706.1 and KX657707.1), with 99.23% to 100% (sequence identity, E value: 0.00) matching success. The tree based on barcodes placed the specimens into the Rhynchaenus group, and the phylogenetic relationship between 62 sequences (30 samples and 32 from GeneBank) had high congruence with the morphospecies taxa. The traditional DNA barcodes were successfully transformed into quick response codes with larger coding capacity for information storage. The results showed that DNA barcoding is reliable for R. maculosus identification. The integration of molecular and morphology-based methods contributes to accurate species identification of this newly emerging oak pest.
Keywords: leaf-mining pest / oak trees / forest pest / rapid identification / early monitoring

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