Taxonomy and Systematics of the Nematode Genus Bursaphelenchus (Nematoda: Parasitaphelenchidae)
Nematodes in the genus Bursaphelenchus, which are mycophagus or plant parasitic, or both, have been considered a potential risk to cultivated plants, especially conifers, since the end of the 1970s. The reason for this is that the genus contains two virulent plant pathogens, the pine wood nematode (PWN), B. xylophilus, and the red ring nematode, B. cocophilus. To date almost 90 Bursaphelenchus species have been described (Hunt 1993; Ryss et al. 2005; Kanzaki 2006; see Table II.1), especially from Europe (Rühm 1956; Braasch 2001) and the USA (Massey 1974), as associates of coleopteran beetles; however, because of the finding of the PWN in Portugal (Mota et al. 1999), the practical importance of the taxonomy of this genus has been re-evaluated worldwide. Recently, probably because of the global interest in this nematode genus, the number of newly described species from Asian countries such as China, Thailand and Japan, where in the past only a few Bursaphelenchus nematodes have been reported, has increased (Braasch and Braasch-Bidasak 2002; Braasch et al. 2005; Gu et al. 2005, 2006a, b; Kanzaki 2006; Kanzaki and Futai 2007).
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