Author: Dr. Richard Stouthamer, Dr. Paul Rugman-Jones and Jesus R. Lara

Molecular analyses of field-collected persea mite (Oligonychus perseae) specimens established that (1) ITS-2 provides reliable Oligonchyus species identification and (2) COI analyses were able to discern that California’s persea mite population originated from central Mexico. Persea mite COI DNA sequences from California also matched populations from Baja California, but central Mexico is the economic center and evolutionary origin of avocado and for these reasons it is the likely source of invasive persea mite populations that became established in California. A comparison of predatory mite species (Phytoseiidae) from Mexico and California as originally intended was limited by challenges in amplifying COI/ITS-2 DNA from individual specimens but significant progress was made in optimizing non-destructive DNA extraction protocols for this taxonomic group.