A novel disease affecting the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis (Acari, Phytoseiidae): 1. Symptoms in adult females

C. Schütte, P.W. Kleijn, M. Dicke

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Adult female Phytoseiulus persimilis Athias-Henriot (Acari, Phytoseiidae) of one of our laboratory populations showed a lower degree of attraction to herbivore-induced plant volatiles than other laboratory populations. We hypothesized earlier that this consistent change in foraging behavior is a symptom of a disease, as it is a contagious phenomenon. Here we describe more symptoms by comparing mated females of this population (non-responding (NR) population) with mated females of other populations that are strongly attracted to herbivore-induced plant volatiles (responding populations). The most apparent characteristic of the NR population was the presence of numerous dorso-ventrally flattened females (76% of all females). These females had a normal size after mating but shrank during adulthood. Independent of their age, shrunken females did not reproduce and died a few days after shrinking. In addition to these profound differences in short term performance, females from the NR-population showed behavioral changes, including a lower degree of attraction to herbivore-induced plant volatiles, a higher tendency to leave a prey-patch and a lower predation rate. Moreover, about half of the live females of the NR-population carried birefringent dumbbell-shaped crystals in the legs whereas live females of a responding population carried crystals only in the lumen of the Malpighian tubules and the rectum. The symptom `crystals in the legs¿ was correlated with low reproduction. Energy dispersive X-ray diffraction of these crystals revealed that they contain calcium and phosphorus along with carbon and oxygen. Crystals with comparable elemental compositions and the same characteristic concentric layering are well known in insects, where they are thought to play a major role in detoxification of calcium and heavy metals, and in storage of phosphorus. The fraction of predators carrying a white spot in the distal part of the opisthosoma, due to accumulation of excretory material in the rectum, was the same in both populations. Present results are discussed in the context of mite pathology and biological control
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-297
JournalExperimental and Applied Acarology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • induced plant volatiles
  • citrus red mites
  • abdominal discoloration
  • athias-henriot
  • birefringent crystals
  • malpighian tubules
  • system
  • microsporidia
  • performance
  • population

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