A new species of bamboo-feeding plant lice found in Costa Rica

Feb 06, 2012
This is Chusquea tomentosa, the bamboo which constitutes the diet of the newly found plant lice (based on current data). Credit: Nicolás Pérez Hidalgo et al.

Several periods of field work during 2008 have led to the discovery of a new species of bamboo-feeding plant lice in Costa Rica's high-altitude region "Cerro de la Muerte". The discovery was made thanks to molecular data analysis of mitochondrial DNA. The collected records have also increased the overall knowledge of plant lice (one of the most dangerous agricultural pests worldwide) from the region with more that 20%. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

It is a well established fact that the arthropod fauna, to which plant lice also belong, is abundantly present in the tropical regions. Not so with plant lice, which prefer the temperate climates of the . This has been a bit of a paradox for scientists although it is also known that plant lice diversity increases in areas, such as mountains and high plateaus. Such is the sampling area visited in Costa Rica: "Cerro de la Muerte", or The Mountain of the Dead, the highest point in the Costa Rican section of the Inter-American Highway.

This is a microscope-enhanced photo of the newly found aphid (plant lice), Rhopalosipum chusqueae. Credit: Nicolás Pérez Hidalgo et al.

Many plant lice species feed only on one type (or even species) of plant; the diet of the newly described plant lice species consists (based on current data), for example, solely of a type of bamboo (Chusquea tomentosa). A molecular analysis was used to determine to which taxonomic genus it belongs (Rhopalosiphum). Its description is based also on molecular information of fragments of the (COI), and on nuclear gene coding, in addition to morphologic external characteristics.

Plant lice are recognized among the biggest on agriculture and gardening. From a zoological point of view though, they are very successful organisms, which although present mainly in temperate climates, have the potential to threaten even tropical regions, dedicated to plant cultivation.

Explore further: Telling the time of day by color

More information: Pérez Hidalgo N, Martínez-Torres D, Collantes-Alegre JM, Villalobos Muller W, Nieto Nafría JM (2012) A new species of Rhopalosiphum (Hemiptera, Aphididae) on Chusquea tomentosa (Poaceae, Bambusoideae) from Costa Rica. ZooKeys 166: 59-73. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.166.2387

Related Stories

Body lice originate from head lice

Mar 25, 2010

Body lice, which cause highly lethal epidemics (trench fever, typhus and relapsing fever Borrelia), originate from head lice. This has recently been shown by a team from the Emerging Infectious and Tropical Diseases Research ...

Ichneumon wasp back in favor

Feb 26, 2010

The Aphidius matricariae wasp of the Ichneumon family was widely used to get rid of plant lice in greenhouse agriculture up to fifteen years ago. Since then, it has given way to its American cousin, Aphidius colemani. A comparative ...

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

Apr 17, 2015

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

Apr 17, 2015

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

Apr 17, 2015

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.