Determining the Identity and Possible Origins of a Collembola Pest of Lettuce and Tree Seedlings

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Alejandra Flores


Lettuce farmers in the Salinas Valley of California have reported
debilitating losses to their crop as a result of damage to the roots
of lettuce plants. Similar symptoms have also been reported by
maple and poplar tree nurseries in Oregon. A study of the arthropods
associated with the damaged lettuce and tree seedling
roots indicated that feeding by a Collembola is the likely cause of
the damage. Using morphological evidence the Collembola were
identified as Protaphorura fimata. We used molecular tools, the
mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I (COI), to confirm the
identity of this pest as well as to determine the genetic relationship
between the California and Oregon P. fimata populations to
each other and with a population from Europe. The goals of this
research are as follows: 1) Confirm species identity of California
and Oregon P. fimata populations. 2) Determine genetic relationship
of California, Oregon and European P. fimata populations in
order to assess whether P. fimata is an invasive species.

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