The Root-Knot Nematode Producing Galls on <I>Spartina alterniflora</I> Belongs to the Genus <I>Meloidogyne</I> : Rejection of <I>Hypsoperine</I> and <I>Spartonema</I> spp.


  • Olivier Plantard
  • Sylvie Valette
  • Michael F. Gross


Molecular biology, taxonomy, phylogeny, Tylenchida, Meloidogyninae, M. spartinae, 18S ribosomal DNA


Root-knot nematodes are a major group of plant-parasitic nematodes, but their sister group within the Tylenchida remains to be identified. To find the sister group and for any investigation of the evolutionary biology of the genus Meloidogyne, it would be useful to identify the most basal species within Meloidogyninae. Meloidogyne spartinae, a root-knot nematode parasitic on cordgrass (Spartina spp.), constitutes a potentially interesting early diverging (or at least highly divergent) root-knot nematode because it was originally described in a different genus, Hypsoperine (and later Spartonema), due to its unique anatomy and biology (although it was later put in synonymy by some, but not all, taxonomists). We have sequenced the whole 18S rDNA of this species and compared it to other sequences of this region that are available in GenBank for numerous Meloidogyne species. Phylogenetic analysis unambiguously locates the branch corresponding to M. spartinae as a lately diverging species, more closely related to M. maritima, M. duytsi or the M. ardenensis-hapla group. Thus, the distinction of a separate genus (Hypsoperine or Spartonema) for this species is not justified.