Isoelectrofocusing of superoxide dismutase (SOD) isoforms was carried out on the extracts of 117 nematode populations belonging to the so-called Xiphinema americanum-group. These populations came from the USA (77), Chile (5), Argentina (1), Venezuela (5), Portugal (15), Italy (2), Crete (1), Montenegro (1), Slovakia (4), Hungary (3), Egypt (1) and India (2). A total of 17 bands of enzyme activity were observed in the screening, whilst single enzyme phenotypes showed from two to eight bands. The high degree of SOD polymorphism of this nematode collection was grouped by cluster analysis into seven distinct homogeneous groups characterised by specific combinations of SOD markers. Sub-groups could be discriminated for larger groups. The small Groups 3 and 5 were constituted mostly by populations from USA east coast states (i.e., NY and PA, respectively). The larger Group 1 resulted from the association of populations coming from various and distant North American States. In other large groups, North American populations were associated with South American and European populations. Overall, the data presented here suggest that geographic separation and different hosts do not seem to be the source of genetic diversity for the X. americanum-group. When an adequate number of populations were collected from the same country, the variability expressed by such a sub-sample was comparable to that of the whole nematode collection. For the first time, homogeneous populations of a large collection of X. americanum-group populations were associated by molecular means in order to explore further approaches that may help resolve the recalcitrant taxonomy and phylogeny of this much debated group.
- Genetic variability