The usefulness of the internally transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) of the nuclear ribosomal gene complex is tested for providing taxonomic characters to identify Trichogramma species. The ITS2 sequences of a group of sibling species of the T. deion/T. pretiosum complexes were determined. A simple and precise identification key to the species of these assemblages was constructed using as taxonomic characters the size of the ITS2 and the difference in restriction length polymorphism of species with similarly sized ITS2. Individual wasps can be identified by amplification of their ITS2 with general primers, determining the size of the PCR product using standard agarose electrophoresis, followed in some species by a DNA-digestion with a restriction enzyme. Because this system works well for a number of closely related species we are hopeful that similar PCR-based identification can be extended to all species of the genus once their ITS2 sequences have been determined. The advantage of this identification system over the morphology-based system is that non-specialists are able to quickly and cheaply identify individual specimens. In addition, species specific primers were tested for the two most common species of these groups (i.e. T. pretiosum and T. deion). These primers can be used either as a direct identification tool or as a method to confirm the identification using the general key. The phylogeny of this group of wasps was also analyzed based on the ITS2 sequence.
- Identification key