Background. The phylum Tardigrada consists of over 1,300 species that inhabit terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments throughout the world. In terrestrial habitats they live primarily in mosses, lichens, leaf litter and soil, whereas tardigrades in freshwater and marine environments are mainly found in sediments and on aquatic plants. More than 65 species have been previously reported in the state of Tennessee, USA. Methods. Tardigrades present in moss cushions (Grimmia sp.) collected from a xerothermic habitat on the East Tennessee State University campus, Johnson City, TN, USA, were extracted, mounted on slides, identified, and counted. Additional samples of fresh dried moss were used for integrative analyses, including morphological analysis with phase contrast (PCM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), as well as molecular analyses of COI, 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA, and ITS-2 of the Macrobiotus and Milnesium species. Results. Five species were found, including two species new to science: Viridiscus miraviridis sp. nov. and Macrobiotus basiatus sp. nov. Viridiscus miraviridis sp. nov. differs from other members of the genus mainly by having a different type of dorsal cuticle and some other, more subtle, morphometric characters. In addition to the two new species, Viridiscus perviridis and Viridiscus viridissimus were present, and males of Vir. viridissimus were found for the first time, the first record of males in the genus Viridiscus. Macrobiotus basiatus sp. nov. is most similar to Macrobiotus nelsonae, but it differs from Mac. nelsonae mainly by the stylet supports being situated in a more anterior position, shorter and narrower egg processes, and a smaller number of areoles around the egg processes. Moreover, the identification of Milnesium inceptum was confirmed as the first record for the USA by analysis of COI.
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Nelson, Diane R.; Fletcher, Rebecca Adkins; Guidetti, Roberto; Roszkowska, Milena; Grobys, Daria; and Kaczmarek, Lukasz. 2020. Two New Species of Tardigrada From Moss Cushions (Grimmia sp.) in a Xerothermic Habitat in Northeast Tennessee (USA, North America), With the First Identification of Males in the genus Viridiscus. PeerJ. Vol.8 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10251