n African Entomology - Molecular and behavioural evidence suggesting a re-examination of the taxonomy of (Walker), (Deventer) and Zeller (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



Since 2000, the groundnut leaf miner has increasingly become a pest of groundnut and soya bean on the African continent. The origin of the pest in Africa is uncertain. Early reports in South Africa assumed it was an invasion of (Deventer) from the Asian continent, but subsequent mitochondrial DNA COI gene (mtDNA COI) fingerprinting matched it to (Walker, 1864) from Australia. Prior to this, reports in the 1950s recorded it in Africa under the name (Zeller, 1852). Furthermore, it was found that A. simplexella responded to the species-specific lure developed from the sex pheromone of . As a result of these apparent anomalies, we examined the genetic relatedness of the above species from Africa, India and Australia. mtDNA COI analysis was performed on 44 specimens collected from South Africa, four from Mozambique, and three each from single locations in India and Australia. In the BOLD gene bank, 70 % of the specimens analysed matched with sequences from Australia (99-100 %), including all three specimens from both India and Australia, and two from Mozambique. In the remaining specimens, the match was 98-99 %. Two specimens, later to be identified as parasitoids, did not match with any sequences in the BOLD gene bank. In the NCBI gene bank, 81 % of the sequences matched 99-100 %, and a further 15 % matched 92-98 % with sequences. Based on these mtDNA COI analyses, and the similarities of the behavioural responses originally noted between the species, we thus suggest the re-examination of the taxonomy and synonymisation of the three populations of the two species.

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