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Morphological and molecular characterization of Mermis nigrescens Dujardin, 1842 (Nematoda: Mermithidae) parasitizing the introduced European earwig (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) in New Zealand

  • B. Presswell (a1), S. Evans (a1), R. Poulin (a1) and F. Jorge (a1) (a2) (a3)

Parasitic nematodes of the family Mermithidae were found to be infecting the introduced European earwig Forficula auricularia (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand. Adult females were later collected from various garden plants while depositing eggs. These mermithid specimens were identified morphologically as Mermis nigrescens Dujardin, 1842. A genetic distance of 0.7% between these specimens and a M. nigrescens isolate from Canada (18S rRNA gene), suggests that they have diverged genetically, but there are currently no available comparable sequences for the European M. nigrescens. Two additional nuclear fragments were also amplified, the 28S rRNA and the ribosomal DNA first internal transcribed spacer (ITS1), providing a basis for future studies. Bearing in mind the morphological similarity with other reported M. nigrescens and the lack of sequence data from other parts of the world, we retain the name M. nigrescens, and suggest that the species may be found to represent a complex of cryptic species when more worldwide data are available. Herein, we present a brief description of the post-parasitic worms and adult females, along with an inferred phylogeny using 18S rRNA gene sequences.

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Supplementary Materials

Presswell Supplementary Material
Mermis nigrescens female climbing to the tip of fern frond in the summer after rainfall. Note the anterior tip region exhibiting the yellowish colour characteristic of the female (ocellar haemoglobin), and the brownish eggs visible in the posterior body.

 Video (207.5 MB)
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