EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 08 - 2017 Num. article: 2017/153

Brevipalpus phoenicis, vector of citrus leprosis, is a species complex

Citrus leprosis (EPPO A1 List) is an economically important virus disease currently spreading in the Americas, associated with several virus species, and which is transmitted by mite species in the genus Brevipalpus, and more specifically by Brevipalpus phoenicis (Acari: Tenuipalpidae). Several studies (morphological and molecular) have indicated that B. phoenicis does not correspond to a single taxon but most probably to a species complex. In addition, the situation has been confused over the years by the lack of precise descriptions leading to numerous misidentifications, in particular to many confusions between B. phoenicis and B. obovatus. All these taxonomic and diagnostic difficulties have rendered data on geographical distribution, host range and epidemiology very uncertain. The taxonomy of B. phoenicis has been revised by conducting careful re-examination of numerous voucher specimens with electron microscopy (LT-SEM,). Several groups previously placed within B. phoenicis sensu lato have been elevated to species rank, new synonymies have been established, and other previously described species are now considered to be part of this species complex. It is proposed that the Brevipalpus phoenicis sensu lato is composed of the following species:  
- Brevipalpus azores sp. nov.
- Brevipalpus feresi sp. nov.
- Brevipalpus ferraguti sp. nov.
- Brevipalpus hondurani
- Brevipalpus papayensis
- Brevipalpus phoenicis sensu stricto
- Brevipalpus tucuman sp. nov. 
- Brevipalpus yothersi
In these studies, geographical distributions and host plants are provided for these 8 species and can be retrieved in the EPPO Global Database. Among these species, it is noted that B. yothersi has a strong association with citrus leprosis disease. The complexities of the virus-vector-host interactions for this species complex illustrate the importance of taxonomy and diagnostic in understanding an economically important disease of citrus.


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