Flatworms have been invading Europe for decades, the oldest known invaders (Bipalium kewense and Dolichoplana striata) were most likely introduced with horticulture from Asia. Recently, due to a globalised trade of plants, more flatworms have been recorded in Europe, mainly introduced from Australia and South America. So far several invasive flatworm species have been discovered in Europe, ten of which have been found in France and the United Kingdom. In Belgium three invasive species have been reported until now. Flatworms, though seemingly harmless creatures, are voracious predators and can decimate entire populations of earthworms, snails, slug and other ground dwelling invertebrates, thereby destroying soil-ecosystems and potentially causing damage to agricultural facilities.
BopCo has investigated the applicability of DNA-based methods for the identification of invasive flatworms in Europe. The results are presented as factsheets (one per invasive species of flatworm) providing an overview of which DNA markers can be used to identify the flatworms through DNA-barcoding. These factsheets can be freely consulted and downloaded from the BopCo website. [Click here]
Each factsheet consists of (i) a short introduction to the specific invasive flatworm species, compiling information on its classification, as well as its native and invasive distribution and (ii) a critical evaluation of the suitability of current publicly available reference DNA sequences to identify a given invasive flatworm species.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information or with inquiries on how to send biological samples for species identification.