Pinewood Nematode Species Complex: Interbreeding Potential and Chromosome Number


  • R. I. Bolla
  • M. Boschert


Interbreeding potential, chromosome number, and host range were compared among several isolates and species of Bursaphelenchus from diverse geographic areas. Some isolates from North America, Japan, and France had a wide-ranging interbreeding potential, whereas others were restricted in their potential to hybridize with other isolates. Although interbreeding occurred in the laboratory between some "M" and "R" forms of B. xylophilus, interbreeding of B. xylophilus and B. mucronatus was rare. The hybrids had the pathogenicity of the parent with the broader host range. This fact suggests that virulence may be inherited as a dominant character or that increased virulence may have resulted from differences in hybrid vigor. The haploid chromosome number of the different isolates separated the isolates into three groups and distinguished B. xylophilus from B. mucronatus. The findings suggest that the pinewood nematode species complex consists of sibling species that have evolved by reproductive isolation, that the French isolate is a new species, and that B. xylophilus and B. mucronatus have evolved from a common ancestor. Key words: Bursaphelenchus, chromosome, interbreeding, nematode, pinewood nematode, Pinus, speciation.