Pratylenchus penetrans is an economically important root-lesion nematode species that affects agronomic and ornamental plants. Understanding its diversity is of paramount importance to develop effective control and management strategies. This study aimed to characterize the morphological and genetic diversity among seven European isolates. An isolate from the USA was included in the molecular analyses for comparative purposes. Morphometrics of the European P. penetrans isolates generally were within the range of the original descriptions for this species. However, multiple morphometric characteristics, including body length, maximum body width, tail length and length of the post-vulval uterine sac showed discrepancies when compared to other populations. Nucleotide sequence-based analyses revealed a high level of intraspecific diversity among the isolates. We observed no correlation between D2-D3 rDNA- and COXI-based phylogenetic similarities and geographic origin. Our phylogenetic analyses including selected GenBank sequences also suggest that the controversy surrounding the distinction between P. penetrans and P. fallax remains.
Keywords: COXI; D2-D3 rDNA; PP5; Pratylenchus fallax; Pratylenchus penetrans; genetic diversity; morphometrics; root-lesion nematode; β-1,4-endoglucanase.