Tagosodes orizicolus Muir (Homoptera: Delphacidae), the endemic delphacid species of tropical America carries yeast-like symbiotes (YLS) in the abdominal fat bodies and the ovarial tissues, like other rice planthoppers of Asia. These YLS are obligate symbiotes, which are transmitted transovarially, and maintain a mutualistic relationship with the insect host. This characteristic has made in vitro culture and classification of YLS rather difficult using conventional methods. Nevertheless, microorganisms of similar characteristics have been successfully classified by using molecular taxonomy. In the present work, the YLS of Tagosodes orizicolus (YLSTo) were purified on Percoll® gradients, and specific segments of 18S rDNA were amplified by PCR, cloned and sequenced. Sequences were aligned by means of the CLUSTAL V (DNASTAR) program; phylogenetic trees were constructed with the Phylogeny Inference Package (PHYLIP), showing that YLSTo belong to the fungi class Pyrenomycetes, phylum Ascomycota. Similarities between 98% and 100% were observed among YLS of the rice delphacids Tagosodes orizicolus, Nilaparvata lugens, Laodelphax striatellus and Sogatella furcifera, and between 89.8% and 90.8% when comparing the above to YLS of the aphid Hamiltonaphis styraci. These comparisons revealed that delphacid YLS are a highly conserved monophyletic group within the Pyrenomycetes and are closely related to Hypomyces chrysospermus
Keywords: tagosodes orizicolus, yeast-like symbiotes, 18S rDNA, genetic relationships, pyrenomycetes, rice planthoppers