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Diana M. Percy

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Cardiaspina (Spondyliaspidinae, Psyllidae)

There are around 24 species in the genus Cardiaspina, grouped into four species groups by Taylor (1962). Illustrated (right) are the adult and the five nymphal stages. The photos show examples of 'lerps' which are protective coverings of sugar and carbohydrate exudates produced by the nymphs. Adults do not make lerps. The three lerps pictured at the bottom are from C. tenuitela, C. densitexta and C. albitextura, and are only slightly different. The adults and nymphs of these three species are morphologically indistinguishable (cryptic species). Taylor (1962) described the species based on the slight difference of the lerp and the occurrence on different Eucalyptus host plants. As some Cardiaspina species cause conspicuous leaf necrosis during feeding, and in outbreak years heavily infested trees may die completely, the reproductive biology and population dynamics of this psyllid group is of broad ecological interest.

Images reproduced from the Australian Journal of Zoology 10 (K.L. Taylor, 1962) with permission of CSIRO PUBLISHING © CSIRO


Molecular Phylogeny (COI)

Multiple haplotypes of the three cryptic species, C. tenuitela, C. densitexta and C. albitextura, were sampled for a region of the cytochrome oxidase I mitochondrial gene (equivalent to position 1718-2329 of the Drosophila reference sequence, Clary & Wolstenholme 1985).

The molecular data partly supports the taxonomic delimitations: C. tenuitela and C. densitexta are monophyletic taxa and are sister species. These two species also share a denser textured lerp, and occur on host plants in the same Section and Subsection of Eucalyptus. C. tenuitela (ACT) and C. densitexta (NSW) are both localized species. C. albitextura on the other hand is a widespread species in southeastern Australia occurring on hosts in two Sections of Eucalyptus. The lerp of C. albitextura is less dense. This species appears to be paraphyletic, with the haplotypes from the Adelaide region of SA distinct from the other haplotypes sampled. The small molecular divergence between some haplotypes from SA and those from NSW and ACT (>1000 km apart) could have been effected by man made distribution and planting of the host species (E. camaldulensis and E. blakelyi).

DNA extraction and sequencing of the 12S region was undertaken by Geoff Clarke (CSIRO Entomology).

ACT = Australian Capital Territory, SA = South Australia, NSW = New South Wales. Two ** indicate bootstrap support values greater than 90% in both neighbour-joining and maximum parsimony analyses. One * indicates greater than 90% in neighbour-joining only.

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C. tenuitela (male)
C. tenuitela (male+female)
C. densitexta (male)
C. densitexta (male+female)
C. albitextura (male SA)
C. albitextura (male ACT)
C. albitextura (male+female)
C. retator (male)
C. retator (male+female)

The acoustic data supports the taxonomic delimitations, and also supports the sister species relationship between C. tenuitela and C. densitexta (shorter, faster calls). C. albitextura has a longer, slower call, which is surprisingly consistent over the large geographic range of this species. The geographic range of C. tenuitela and C. densitexta does not overlap, but both of these species occur sympatrically with C. albitextura, although on different hosts. The divergence in call type between the tenuitela-densitexta lineage and C. albitextura may therefore have arisen sympatrically as a species recognition system and to reinforce reproductive isolation between host adapted lineages.


This research is funded by The Leverhulme Trust with an equipment grant from the Systematics Association. I have collaborated with Gary Taylor (University of Adelaide) on work with psyllids. Molecular data were generated by Geoff Clarke (CSIRO Entomology).


Clary, D.O. & Wolstenholme, D.R. (1985) The mitochondrial DNA molecule of Drosophila yakuba: nucleotide sequence, gene organization, and genetic code. Journal of Molecular Evolution 22, 252-271.

Taylor, K.L. (1962) The Australian genera Cardiaspina Crawford and Hyalinaspis Taylor (Homoptera: Psyllidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 10, 307-348.

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All images and sound clips, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Diana M. Percy

Created 2002. Updated 20/01/2005. Return to top of page


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