Monthly Archives: January 2020

New Species: January 2020

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described this month. It certainly does not include all described species. You can see the list of Journals used in the survey of new species here.

Bacteria

Campylobacter portucalensis is a new proteobacterium isolated from the preputial mucosa of a bull in Portugal. Credits to Silva et al. (2020).*

Archaeans

SARs

Alseodaphnopsis maguanensis is a new lauracean tree from China. Credits to Li et al. (2020).*
Colocasia kachinensis is a new aroid from Myanmar. Credits to Zhou et al. (2020).*

Plants

Bulbophyllum papuaense is a new orchid from Papua. Credits to Lin et al. (2020).*
Begonia chenii is a new begonia from Myanmar. Credits to Maw et al. (2020).*

Fungi

Poriferans

Cnidarians

Rotiferans

Flatworms

Annelids

Mollusks

Bryozoans

Nematodes

Tardigrades

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Deuteraphorura muranensis is a new cave-dwelling springtail from Slovakia. Credits to Parimuchová et al. (2020).*
Vates phenix is a new mantis from Brazil. Credits to Rivera et al. (2020).*

Hexapods

Pseudolebinthus lunipterus is a new cricket from Malawi. Credits to Salazar et al. (2020).*

Actinopterygians

Enteromius yardiensis is a new fish from Ethiopia. Credits to Englmaier et al. (2020).*

Amphibians

Nidirana yeae is a new Music frog from China. Credits to Wei et al. (2020).*

Reptiles

Gehyra arnhemica (left) and Gehyra gemina (right) are two new geckos from Australia. Credits to Oliver et al. (2020).*

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*Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Friday Fellow: Spotless Lady Beetle

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Lady beetles, also known as ladybirds or ladybugs, are popular beetles famous for their round bodies and spotted elytra. Not all species have spots, though, such as Cycloneda sanguinea, adequately known as the spotless lady beetle.

A male spotless lady beetle in Florida, USA. Photo by Judy Gallagher.*

Occurring from the United States to Argentina, the spotless lady beetle is the most widespread lady beetle in South America. Its elytra vary from orange to deep red, while its pronotum and head have the typical black color with white marks that most lady beetles have. There is a little difference between males and females. Males have a white stripe running through the middle of the anterior half of the pronotum and the head has a white square on the “forehead”. Females lack the white stripe on the pronotum and have the white square crossed by a black mark, which turns it into two white stripes.

A female in Uruguay. Photo by Joaquín D.*

After mating, the female lays small clusters of yellow eggs on the vegetation, which hatch into larvae after about 10 days. The larva has the typical look of lady bettle larvae and the body in later instars have dark gray and yellow marks. The time that it takes to go from egg to adult varies a lot depending on the temperature, with higher temperatures accelerating development. Thus, in warm climates, the spotless lady beetle can have more than one generation per year.

A larva in Mexico. Photo by Francisco Sarriols Sarabia.*

The spotless lady beetle feeds mainly on aphids and, as many other lady beetle species, is used as a biological control against these plant pests in many crops, such as cotton, pine, beans and citrus species. It is a voracious aphid predator both as a larva and as an adult and females prefer to lay their eggs on plants that are infested by aphids to assure their offspring will have plenty of food.

A male about to take flight in California, USA. Photo by iNaturalist user kstny.*

Currently, one of the main threats to the spotless lady beetle is the Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis, which was deliberately or accidentally introduced in many areas in the Americas. Larger and more more aggressive, the Asian lady beetle outcompetes the Spotless Lady Beetle especially by eating its eggs and larvae but also by consuming its food, as both species have aphids as their main prey.

This is one more example about how biological control can be a nice alternative to spread poison on pests but only if conducted without introducing a voracious predator into another ecosystem.

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References:

Cardoso JT, Lázzar SMN (2003) Comparative biology of Cycloneda sanguinea (Linnaeus, 1763) and Hippodamia convergens Guérin-Méneville, 1842 (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) focusing on the control of Cinara spp. (Hemiptera, Aphididae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 47(3): 443–446. doi: 10.1590/S0085-56262003000300014 

Işkıber AA (2005) Functional responses of two coccinellid predators, Scymnus levaillanti and Cycloneda sanguinea, to the cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii. Turkish Journal of Agriculture and Forestry 29: 347–355.

Michaud JP (2002) Invasion of the Florida Citrus Ecosystem by Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and Asymmetric Competition with a Native Species, Cycloneda sanguinea. Environmental Entomology 31(5): 827–835. doi: 10.1603/0046-225X-31.5.827

Sarmento RA, Venzon M, Pallini A, Oliveira EE, Janssen A (2007) Use of odours by Cycloneda sanguinea to assess patch quality. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 124(3): 313–318. doi: 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2007.00587.x

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Friday Fellow: Hawaiian Black Nerite

by Piter Kehoma Boll

The sea is so full of different lifeforms that it is hard to leave it once we are there. Thus, we will continue in the sea this week, but moving to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more precisely to the Hawaiian islands. There, on the shore, we can find today’s fellow.

An aggregate of Nerita picea in Kauai. Photo by Phil Liff-Grieff.*

Named Nerita picea, it is a small snail found on the rocky shores across most of Hawaii, often in aggregates. It is commonly called the Hawaiian black nerite in English but the native Hawaiians call it pipipi.

Empty shells of the Hawaiian black nerite. Photo by Donna Pomeroy.**

The Hawaiian black nerite measures about 1 cm in length and its shell is externally black with spiral ribs, sometimes with a thin lighter line running between them, and often with a whitish tone on the tip of the spiral. Its ribs are relatively little marked when compared to most nerite species. Internally, the shell is white. The soft parts of the body are also mostly dark in color and so is the operculum, the lid that closes the opening of the shell when the snail retracts. The foot, however, is lighter. When a live animal is picked, it quickly retracts into the shell, covering the opening with the operculum and letting a white margin around it.

A live specimen in Oahu with the soft parts visible. Photo by Isaac Lord.**

Like most intertidal snails, the Hawaiian black nerite is a herbivore and grazes on algae growing on the rocks. It prefers to live at the splash zone and slightly above it, differing from its closest relative, Nerita plicata, which lives in the upper zone, avoiding the splashes.

Due to its tropical distribution, the Hawaiian black nerite reproduces continuously throughout the year. There is no sexual dimorphism between males and females, which is, I guess, “the rule” for snails.

The Hawaiian black nerite was traditionally used as food by the native Hawaiians and its shells can be found in large numbers in archaeological sites of the archipelago dating back more than a thousand years. Empty shells of the Hawaiian black nerite are also commonly used by small hermit crabs of the genus Calcinus.

Calcinus hermit crabs using the shells of dead Hawaiian black nerites. Photo by CA Clark.***

Despite being a common species in Hawaii and having a historical importance as food, little seems to be known about the life history of the Hawaiian black nerite.

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References:

Dye T (1994) Apparent ages of marine shells: implications for archaeological dating in Hawai’i. Radiocarbon 36(1):51–57.

Frey MA (2010) The relative importance of geography and ecology in species diversification: evidence from a tropical marine intertidal snail (Nerita). Journal of Biogeography 37:1515–1528. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02283.x

Pfeiffer CJ (1992) Intestinal Ultrastructure of Nerita picea (Mollusca: Gastropoda), an Intertidal Marine Snail of Hawaii. Acta Zoologic 73(1):39–47. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-6395.1992.tb00947.x 

Reese ES (1969) Behavioral adaptations of intertidal hermit crabs. American Zoologist 9(2):343–355. doi: 10.1093/icb/9.2.343

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**Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

***Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.

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We all came from Asgard

by Piter Kehoma Boll

And by “we all” I mean we, the eukaryotes, the organisms with complex cells with a nucleus, mitochondria and stuff.

The way organisms are classified changed hugely across the last two centuries but, during the past few decades, it became clear that we have three domains of life, namely Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Although the relationship between these three domains was problematic at first, it soon became clear that Eukarya and Archaea are more closely related to each other than they are to Bacteria.

Both Bacteria and Archaea are characterized by the so-called prokaryotic cell, in which there is no delimited nucleus and only a single circular chromosome (plus a lot of smaller gene rings called plasmids). Eukarya, on the other hand, has a nucleus surrounded by a membrane which includes many linear chromosomes. Both the structure of the cell membrane and several genes indicate that Archaea and Eukarya are closely related, but it was still a mystery whether both groups evolved from a common ancestor and were, therefore, sister-groups, or whether eukaryotes evolved directly from archaeans and were, therefore, highy complex archaeans.

Things started to point toward the second hypothesis after several proteins originally considered exclusive to eukaryotes (the so-called Eukaryotic Signature Proteins, ESPs) were found in representatives of the clade TACK of Archaea. However, different clades within the TACK clade had different ESPs, so things remained uncertain.

Then in 2015 a new group of archaeans was discovered in the Arctic Ocean between Norway an Greenland near a field of active hydrothermal vents named Loki’s Castle (Spang et al. 2015). Named Lokiarchaeoata, this new archaean group contained a larger number of ESPs, including many found in different TACK lineages. Lokiarchaeota appeared as a sister-group of eukaryotes in phylogenetic reconstructions and indicated that eukaryotes evolved, indeed, from archaeans, and apparently from more complex archaeans than the ones known at the time. This group was solely based on an incomplete genome found in the sediments, as the organism itself was not found and could not be cultivated to confirm the structure of its cell.

In 2016, another new archaean lineage was discovered through a genome found in the White Oak River estuary on the Atlantic coast of the USA (Seitz et al., 2016). Named Thorarchaeota, this clade revealed to be closely related to Lokiarchaeota and, therefore, to Eukaryotes.

Reconstruction of possible metabolic routes found in Thorarchaeota based on the genes (white boxes) found in the thorarchaeotan genome. Credits to Seitz et al. (2016).

Then in 2017 a lot of new genomes were found in the same environments in which Lokiarchaeaota and Thorarchaeota had been found and in many others (Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka et al., 2017). They included two new groups closely related to these two, which were named Odinarchaeota and Heimdallarchaeota. This whole group received the name “Asgard archaeans” and phylogenetic reconstructions put Eukarya within it, with Heimdallarchaeota being Eukarya’s sister group.

But questions and doubts soon arised. Still in 2017, a new paper (Da Cunha et al., 2017) questioned these findings and raised the hypothesis that the phylogenetic reconstructions putting Asgard and Eukarya together was an artifact caused by long branch attraction, a side-effect of phylogenetic reconstructions in which fast-evolving species force distantly related clades to collapse into a single clade. The removal of some fast-evolving archaeans from the analysis was enough to break the Asgard-Eukarya relationship apart. Since the genomes of Lokiarchaeota and other Asgards were reconstructed from environmental DNA and not from single cells, there was a possibility that the samples were contaminated with material from other organisms. The protein genes used in the analyses also seemed to have divergent origins and may have been acquired via horizontal gene transfer, when a gene is transferred from one organism to another by means other than reproduction, usually through viruses.

The original authors of the Asgard clade, who proposed its proximity to Eukarya, rejected Da Cunha et al.’s (2017) criticism and stated that they used inadequate methodology and that there was no evidence of contamination in their samples (Spang et al., 2018).

(OMG, this turned into an actual fight. Grab your popcorns!)

Da Cunha et al. (2018) responded again showing more evidence of contamination and saying that Spang et al. should show evidence of inadequate methodology if it was the case.

Later studies continued to find the eukaryote sequences in new samples of Asgard, which decrease the likelihood of contamination (Narrowe et al., 2018).

Fournier & Poole (2018) discussed the implications of the proximity of Eukarya to Asgard and proposed a classification in which Asgard was not a member of Archaea anymore, but formed a new domain, Eukaryomorpha, together with Eukarya. They made an analogy with the mammals evolving from synapsids and how synapsids used to be seen as reptiles, even though they are not nested inside the Reptilia (Sauropsida) clade. The same would be the case of Asgard. Despite being “Archaea-like”, they would not be true archaeans.

A hypothetical topology of “true archaeans”, Asgard and Eukarya according to Fournier & Poole (2018).

In a study published in December, Williams et al. (2019) reanalyzed the issue using more data and recovered again the proximity of Asgard to Eukarya. With this accumulation of evidence, the hypothesis of Eukarya originating from inside Archaea grew stronger.

Then now, a few days ago, we finally got what we were waiting for. A group of Japanese scientists (Imachi et al., 2020) finally isolated an Asgard organism and was able to culture it in the lab. It was a very hard task, though. The culture grew very slowly, with a lag phase (the phase in which cells adapt to the environment and grow without dividing) lasting up to 60 days!

The creatures were growing in a mixed culture with a bacterium of the genus Halodesulfovibrio and an archaeon of the genus Methanogenium. The Asgard cells were named Candidatus Prometheoarcheum syntrophicum. In prokaryote taxonomy, a new species receives the status of Candidatus when it was not possible to maintain it in a stable culture.

The cells of this Asgard species are coccoid, i.e., spherical, and often present vesicles on the surface or long membrane protrusions that may or not branch. These protrustions do not connect to each other nor to other cells, differently from similar structures in other archaeans. The cells do not seem to contain any organelle-like structures inside them, going against the expectations. Asgard is not yet the eukaryote-like cell we were waiting for!

Several electron microscope images of Canidatus Prometheoarcheum syntrophicum. Vesicles show in e, f and proturision in g, h. Credits to Imachi et al. (2020).

Thanks to the culture of this Asgard species, it was possible to extract its whole genome and confirm what was previously known from Asgard and based solely on environmental DNA. This confirmed the presence of 80 ESPs and, in a phylogenetic analysis, this new species appeared as the sister group of Eukarya.

Candidatus Prometheoarcheum syntrophicum revealed to be anaerobic and to feed on aminoacids, breaking them into fatty acids and hydrogen. Its association with the other two prokariotes in the mixed culture seems to be a sort of mutualism, with the three species helping each other by hydrogen transfer from one species to another. Many questions about how an organism like that turned into the complex eukaryotic cell still remain but at least we have some more hints about the acquisition of the mitochondria.

Hypothesis of eukaryotic cell evolution based on a mutualistic relationship between an Asgard-like archaean and an aerobic bacterium. Credits to Imachi et al. (2020).

The most widely accepted hypothesis was that primitive eukaryotic cells engulfed an aerobic bacteria through phagocytosis to eat it but ended up retaining it inside. However, seeing the cooperation of our Asgard archaean with other prokaryotes raises the hypothesis that maybe the mutualism between the pro-eukaryotic cell and the aerobic bacteria started when they were still separate organisms.

Are we ever going to find the “true” proto-eukaryote? Let’s wait for the next episodes.

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References:

Da Cunha V, Gaia M, Gadelle D, Nasir A, Forterre P (2017) Lokiarchaea are close relatives of Euryarchaeota, not bridging the gap between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. PLOS Genetics 13(6): e1006810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006810

Da Cunha V, Gaia M, Nasir A, Forterre P (2018) Asgard archaea do not close the debate about the universal tree of life topology. PLOS Genetics 14(3): e1007215. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007215

Imachi H, Nobu MK, Nakahara N et al. (2020) Isolation of an archaeon at the prokaryote–eukaryote interface. Nature. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1916-6

Narrowe AB, Spang A, Stairs CW, Caceres EF, Baker BJ, Miller SC, Ettema TJG (2018) Complex Evolutionary History of Translation Elongation Factor 2 and Diphthamide Biosynthesis in Archaea and Parabasalids. Genome Biology and Evolution 10: 2380–2393. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evy154

Seitz KW, Lazar CS, Hinrichs KU, Teske AP, Baker BJ (2016) Genomic reconstruction of a novel, deeply branched sediment archaeal plylum with pathways for acetogenesis and sulfur reduction. ISME Journal 10: 1696–1705. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.233

Spang A, Saw JH, Jørgensen SL, et al. (2015) Complex archaea that bridge the gap between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Nature 521: 173–179. doi: 10.1038/nature14447

Spang A, Eme L, Saw JH, Caceres EF, Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka K, et al. (2018) Asgard archaea are the closest prokaryotic relatives of eukaryotes. PLOS Genetics 14(3): e1007080. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007080

Williams TA, Cox CJ, Foster PG, Szőllősi GJ, Embley TM (2019) Phylogenomics provides robust support for a two-domains tree of life. Nature Ecology & Evolution. doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-1040-x

Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka K, Caceres EF, Saw JH et al. (2017) Asgard archaea illuminate the origin of eukaryotic cellular complexity. Nature 541:353–358. doi: 10.1038/nature21031

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Friday Fellow: Painted Spiny Lobster

by Piter Kehoma Boll

No other species in the world eats such a great diversity of food types as humans do. And among all the things we eat, some are much more valuable than others, and one of those precious foods is the meat of Panulirus versicolor, the painted spiny lobster.

Painted spiny lobster in Fiji. Photo by Mark Rosenstein.*

Also known as the painted rock lobster or blue spiny lobster, this crustacean can measure up to 40 cm in length and, like all spiny lobsters, has a pair of very large and spiny antennae and lacks the large chelae (claws) on the first pair of walking legs, which are typical of the true lobsters. Its color pattern is very complex and includes a lot of black and white marks on the legs, the cephalothorax and the posterior border of each abdominal segment. The large antennae have a pinkish color at the thicker base and are whitish after that.

Another one from Fiji. Photo by Mark Rosenstein.*

The painted spiny lobster is found in coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific region, from South Africa to Polynesia. It is a voracious carnivore, feeding on carcasses but also actively hunting other crustaceans and eventually fish. They are nocturnal, remaining during the day hidden in rock shelters called dens and leaving at night to capture other benthos (i.e., species that move across the sea floor). Although they do not have a complex social structure, painted spiny lobsters can share the same den if there is room enough and they apparently prefer to do so, even though the groups do not remain together as most individuals move to a new den every few days. The way they share the dens is not random, though. Female painted spiny lobsters share dens more often than would happen by chance but two males are never found together in the same den. Thus, even large dens which can house seven or more spiny lobsters will have at maximum one male.

This one is from Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photo by Albertini maridom.**

Males and females are about the same size and become sexually mature when their carapace measures about 8 to 9 cm in length, which occurs when they are about 4 years old. After mating, a female can produce hundreds of thousands of eggs in a single brood. As they live in tropical waters, they can mate more than once a year.

Throughout its range, the painted spiny lobster is considered a valuable food in many countries, especially Kenya, India, Palau, New Guinea and Australia. It is, indeed, one of the most consumed spiny lobsters in the Indo-Pacific region. However, there are few studies on the impact that harvesting it can have on the ecosystems, although it is expected that most spiny-lobster fishers should know that immature individuals should not be captured in order to ensure the species’ survival.

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References:

Frisch AJ (2007) Growth and reproduction of the painted spiny lobster (Panulirus versicolor) on the Great Barrier Reef (Australia). Fisheries Research 85:61–67. doi: 10.1016/j.fishres.2006.12.001

Frisch AJ (2007) Short- and long-term movements of painted lobster (Panulirus versicolor) on a coral reef at Northwest Island, Australia. Coral Reefs 26:311–317. doi: 10.1007/s00338-006-0194-6

Frisch AJ (2008) Social organisation and den utilisation of painted spiny lobster (Panulirus versicolor) on a coral reef at Northwest Island, Australia. Marine and Freshater Research 59:521–528. doi: 10.1071/MF06110

Vijayakumaran M, Maharajan A, Rajalakshmi S, Jayagopal P, Subramanian MS, Remani MC (2012) Fecundity and viability of eggs in wild breeders of spiny lobsters, Panulirus homarus (Linnaeus, 1758), Panulirus versicolor (Latreille, 1804) and Panulirus ornatus (Fabricius, 1798). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 54: 18–22.

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Friday Fellow: Yellow Mayfly

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Mayflies make up the order Ephemeroptera, one of the oldest ones among insects. Closely related to dragonflies and damselflies (order Odonata), mayflies have an aquatic nymph and a terrestrial imago (i.e., adult). One considerably well-known species is Heptagenia sulphurea, commonly known as the yellow mayfly or yellow may dun.

Native from Europe, the yellow mayfly lives most of its life as a nymph. It prefers running and clean waters, where it lives under stones and feeds on decaying plant matter and associated bacterial biofilms. The nymph has a flattenned body of a dark color with several yellowish marks. The legs are short and white and have a series of alternating yellow and black sinuous transversal stripes. Like in all mayfly nymphs, the abdomen has visible gills on both sides and three longe cerci (tails) at the tip. During its final stage as a nymph, the yellow mayfly is about 1 cm long.

Nymph of the yellow mayfly. Credits to European Fly Angler.

Most mayflies are very sensitive to pollution and the yellow mayfly is one of the most sensitive of all, at least in Europe. Whenever the water of a streams starts to get polluted, the yellow mayfly is the first mayfly species to disappear. Thus, its presence indicates water of very good quality.

Female subimago in Russia. Photo by Robin Bad.*

Different from all other insects, mayflies have an intermediate stage between the nymph and the imago stages, the so-called subimago. This stage is already terrestrial like the imago and already has wings, although they are often less developed, making them poor fliers. This subimago stage is commonly known as dun and, in the yellow mayfly, it has a typical yellow color, hence the common name yellow may dun. Females have black and poorly developed eyes, while in males the eyes are larger and vary from dark gray to whitish. Nymphs molt into subimagos beginning in May, when the peak occurs, but may appear as late as July.

Male imago of the yellow mayfly in Russia. Photo by Vladimir Bryukhov.*

When the subimago molts into the adult, usually after only a few days, the body becomes light brown and the eyes whitish in both sexes, but the eyes are still smaller in females than in males. Adults have the sole purpose of reproducing and so they do. After mating, the male dies in a few hours, and so does the female after laying her eggs in a stream.

The yellow mayfly is often used as a fishing bait. Once a common species across Europe, its populations have decreased considerably in the last century due to the increase of water pollution. Some recent efforts to despolute streams may, fortunately, help this and other mayfly species to find again more room to thrive.

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References:

Beketov MA (2004) Different sensitivity of mayflies (Insecta, Ephemeroptera) to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate between experimental and observational data. Hydrobiologia 528:209–216.

Macan TT (1958) Descriptions of the nymphs of the British species of Heptagenia and Rhithrogena (Ephem.). Entomologist’s Gazette 9:83–92.

Madsen BL (1968) A comparative ecological investigation of two related mayfly nymphs. Hydrobiologia 31:3–4.

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Friday Fellow: Black-Tipped Leafhopper

by Piter Kehoma Boll

The first fellow of 2020 is found in the forests, gardens and plantations of Southeast and East Asia. A member of the small insects commonly known as leafhoppers, its scientific name is Bothrogonia ferruginea and its common name is black-tipped leafhopper.

Leafhoppers belong to the order Hemiptera and feed on the sap of several plant species. The black-tipped leafhopper measures a little more than 1 cm as an adult. The dorsal color is yellow, a little greener on the wings than on the head and the thorax, and there is a group of black spots on the head and thorax, as well as a black margin at the posterior end of the forewings. The eyes are black an the legs are also yellow, with black areas at the joints. Some specimens may have a more orange tinge, from which the name ferruginea (rust-colored) must have come from. The ventral side is black with a yellow border in each segment.

Bothrogonia ferruginea in Japan. Photo by Wikimedia user Keisotyo.*

Eggs are elongate, greenish and small are laid in small clutches in the spring. The first-instar nymphs, which are small and white, hatch from the eggs after about 8.5 days. They develop into adults after about 2 months, passing through 4 more nymph instars. Adults are at first immature and live for 10 months. They slowly develop their sexual organs during summer and autumn, hibernate during four month in winter, and wake up from hibernation in spring, ready to mate.

Nymph of the black-tipped leafhopper in Taiwan. Photo by iNaturalist user nicolle10.**

Male black-tipped leafhoppers attach their sperm to a rope-like transparent material and transfer it to the females inside a large spermatophore, which is placed in their bursa copulatrix. Part of the material inside the spermatophore seems to be transferred into the eggs, as if it was some sort of nutritional gift of the father to his future kids.

It has been suggested that the peculiar color pattern of the black-tipped leafhopper is a form of mimetism. Their yellow background with black spots resembles the color pattern of ladybug pupae. Since ladybugs contain some toxins that makes them an unpleasant meal, imitating them helps the black-tipped leafhopper to be avoided as a food by many predators.

Two black-tipped leafhoppers in Taiwan. Photo by iNaturalist user nicolle10.**

As the black-tipped leafhopper feeds on several plant species, it can be a threat to some crops, especially grapes and tea. More than only feeding on the plants sap, the black-tipped leafhopper can be a vector to transmit the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa between plants. This bacterium is responsible for many plant diseases, including the Pierce’s disease of grapes, which leads to shriveled fruits and premature death of leaves.

Fortunately, the black-tipped leafhopper is not (yet) a major threat to any crop so there is no urge in studying their life history in details.

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More Hemipterans:

Friday Fellow: Pea Aphid (on 12 June 2015)

Friday Fellow: Southern Green Stink Bug (on 10 May 2019)

Friday Fellow: Wattle Horned Treehopper (on 23 August 2019)

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References:

Hayashi F, Kamimura Y (2002) The potential for incorporation of male derived proteins into developing eggs in the leafhopper Bothrogonia ferruginea. Journal of Insect Physiology, 48(2), 153–159. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1910(01)00159-7 

Tuan SJ, Hu FT, Chang HY, Chang PW, Chen YS, Huang TP (2016) Xylella fastidiosa transmission and life history of two cicaellinae sharpshooters, Kolla paulula and Bothrogonia ferruginea (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), in Taiwan. Journal of Economic Entomology 109(3): 1034-1040. doi: 10.1093/jee/tow016

Yamazaki K (2010) Leafhopper’s face mimics the ladybird pupae. Current Science 98(4): 487–488.

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New Species: December 2019

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described this month. It certainly does not include all described species. You can see the list of Journals used in the survey of new species here.

Bacteria

Rhodopirellula heiligendammensis (Poly21), Rhodopirellula pilleata (Pla100), and Rhodopirellula solitaria (CA85) are three new plancomycetes. Credits to Kallscheuer et al. (2019).

SARs

Linum aksehirense is a new flax species from Turkey. Credits to Tugay & Ulukuş (2019).*

Plants

Zahora ait-atta is a new cabbage cousin from Morocco. Credits to Koch & Lemmel (2019).*

Fungi

Aureoboletus glutinosus is a new mushroom from China. Credits to Zhang et al. (2019).*

Cnidarians

Flatworms

Mollusks

Sinorachis baihu is a new snail from China. Credits to Wu et al. (2019).*

Annelids

Sigambra olivai is a new polychaete from the Caribbean. Credits to Salazar-Vallejo et al. (2019).*

Nematodes

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Nebalia tagiri is a new leptostracan from Japan. Credits to Hirata et al. (2019).*

Hexapods

Head of Amblycheila katzi, a new tiger beetle from the USA. Credits to Duran & Roman (2019).*

Echinoderms

Holothuria viridiaurantia is a new sea cucumber from the Pacific. Credits to Borrero-Pérez & Vanegas-González (2019).*

Actinopterygians

Amphibians

Reptiles

Liolaemus tajzara is a new lizard from Bolivia. Credits to Abdala et al. (2019).*

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*Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Filed under Systematics, taxonomy