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Communication

The Cotton Mealybug Is Spreading along the Mediterranean: First Pest Detection in Italian Tomatoes

Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Domenico Bosco, Muhammad Haseeb, Ashfaq Ahmad Sial, Jawwad A. Qureshi and Youichi Kobori
Insects 2021, 12(8), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080675
Received: 22 June 2021 / Revised: 17 July 2021 / Accepted: 23 July 2021 / Published: 27 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Improving IPM of Specialty Crop Pests and Global Food Security)
Nowadays, globalization causes a series of negative consequence for the sustainability of agricultural systems, such as solanaceous cultivations. Here, we report for the first time the presence of an invasive polyphagous mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), in Italian solanaceous crops, i.e., tomato and bell pepper. For this, we analyzed at the morphological and molecular level various specimens collected in Sicily during fall 2020. A phylogenetic analysis conducted comparing an ≈800 bp portion of the mitochondrial genome of several worldwide populations, suggests that the introduced population might originate from Asia. This study represents the first step toward establishing a P. solenopsis monitoring and sustainable control program in Europe.
The cotton mealybug Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) is an extremely polyphagous invasive pest that can cause serious damages to cultivated plants. The pest is native to America but invaded Asian and Mediterranean countries during the last decades. Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., Solanaceae) is an economic relevant crop worldwide and its production can be threatened by numerous insect pests including P. solenopsis. We recorded for the first time P. solenopsis in association with tomato in greenhouse crops and urban landscapes in Sicily (Italy) during the fall season in 2020. The species was identified as P. solenopsis based on the morphological characters and DNA amplification of an ≈800 bp portion of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (mtCOI) gene. The phylogenetic analysis among the obtained P. solenopsis mtCOI sequences with those already available in GenBank suggests Asian countries as a potential source of new introduction. This is the first record of P. solenopsis attacking tomato plants in Italy and may represent a potential threat for tomato production in Europe and nearby countries. For this reason, actions should be taken to avoid the uncontrolled spread of this alien species. View Full-Text
Keywords: alien species; biological invasions; Coccinea; cotton mealybug; Homoptera; pseudococcidae; scale insects; sustainability alien species; biological invasions; Coccinea; cotton mealybug; Homoptera; pseudococcidae; scale insects; sustainability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ricupero, M.; Biondi, A.; Russo, A.; Zappalà, L.; Mazzeo, G. The Cotton Mealybug Is Spreading along the Mediterranean: First Pest Detection in Italian Tomatoes. Insects 2021, 12, 675. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080675

AMA Style

Ricupero M, Biondi A, Russo A, Zappalà L, Mazzeo G. The Cotton Mealybug Is Spreading along the Mediterranean: First Pest Detection in Italian Tomatoes. Insects. 2021; 12(8):675. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080675

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ricupero, Michele, Antonio Biondi, Agatino Russo, Lucia Zappalà, and Gaetana Mazzeo. 2021. "The Cotton Mealybug Is Spreading along the Mediterranean: First Pest Detection in Italian Tomatoes" Insects 12, no. 8: 675. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080675

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