A novel disease affecting the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis (Acari, Phytoseiidae): 2. disease transmission by adult females

C. Schütte, O.J.L. Poitevin, T. Negash, M. Dicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Adult female Phytoseiulus persimilis Athias-Henriot (Acari, Phytoseiidae) of one of our laboratory populations (=NR-population), show the following set of symptoms: predators shrink several days after mating, cease egg production and die several days after shrinking, show a lower degree of attraction to herbivore-induced plant volatiles and a shorter choice time in olfactometer tests, have the tendency to leave a prey patch with ample food, may carry excretory crystals in the legs, may cease prey consumption, and have a lower excretion rate. We hypothesized earlier that this characteristic syndrome, called non-responding (=NR-) syndrome, is caused by a pathogen infecting P. persimilis. To further support this hypothesis we here study several transmission modes of the factor causing the NR-syndrome. In all tests we measured size, short-term fecundity, mortality, predator position, response to plant odors and crystal location, thus including 6 of the 9 symptoms known yet. No evidence was found for vertical transmission from parent to offspring. Eggs from symptomatic females of the NR-population mated by males of the NR-population gave rise to normal-sized, well performing predators, when they had been surface sterilized or transferred to a new leaf. However, such eggs gave rise to shrunken females (17%) when left on the leaf where they had been laid. In the latter case transmission via products deposited on the leaf by the mothers was possible. We therefore tested several modes of horizontal transmission by exposing females of a commercial population that never showed the NR-syndrome (=R1-population) to products related to the symptomatic NR-population. No evidence was found for transmission via food or via squashed adult females. However, symptoms were induced in adult females of the R1-population after a 3-day exposure to a live adult female of the NR-population (incubation period=3¿7 days, fraction shrunken females=53%) and after a 1-day exposure to feces and debris collected from such females (incubation period=2¿4 days, fraction shrunken females=65%). Contact with live females and feces of the R1-population did not induce the syndrome. These results clearly indicate that the NR-syndrome is a contagious phenomenon and that the factor inducing the syndrome is transmitted horizontally among and between generations via feces and debris deposited by symptomatic females. The results are discussed in the context of mite pathology and biological control
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-103
JournalExperimental and Applied Acarology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006



  • induced plant volatiles
  • athias-henriot
  • behavioral-response
  • reproduction
  • cannibalism
  • specialist
  • prey
  • microsporidia
  • conspecifics
  • recognition

Cite this