A new nematode species, Bursaphelenchus sycophilus n. sp. is described. The species was found in syconia of a fig species, Ficus variegata during a field survey of fig-associated nematodes in Japan. Because it has a well-developed stylet and pharyngeal glands, the species is considered an obligate plant parasite, and is easily distinguished from all other fungalfeeding species in the genus based upon these characters. Although B. sycophilus n. sp. shares an important typological character, male spicule possessing a strongly recurved condylus, with the "B. eremus group" and the "B. leoni group" of the genus, it was inferred to be monophyletic with the "B. fungivorus group". The uniquely shaped stylet and well-developed pharyngeal glands is reminiscent of the fig-floret parasitic but paraphyletic assemblage of "Schistonchus". Thus, these morphological characters appear to be an extreme example of convergent evolution in the nematode family, Aphelenchoididae, inside figs. Other characters shared by the new species and its close relatives, i.e., lack of ventral P1 male genital papilla, female vulval flap, and papilla-shaped P4 genital papillae in males, corroborate the molecular phylogenetic inference. The unique biological character of obligate plant parasitism and highly derived appearance of the ingestive organs of Bursaphelenchus sycophilus n. sp. expands our knowledge of the potential morphological, physiological and developmental plasticity of the genus Bursaphelenchus. © 2014 Kanzaki et al.
Kanzaki, N., Tanaka, R., Giblin-Davis, R. M., & Davies, K. A. (2014). New plant-parasitic nematode from the mostly mycophagous genus Bursaphelenchus discovered inside figs in Japan. PLoS ONE, 9(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099241