Novel bacterial pathogen Acaricomes phytoseiuli causes severe disease symptoms and histopathological changes in the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis (Acari, Phytoseiidae)

C. Schütte, R. Gols, R.G. Kleespies, O.J.L. Poitevin, M. Dicke

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Adult female Phytoseiulus persimilis Athias-Henriot (Acari, Phytoseiidae) of a laboratory population show a set of characteristic symptoms, designated as non-responding (NR) syndrome. Mature predators shrink, cease oviposition and die. They show a lower degree of attraction to herbivore-induced plant volatiles and a greater tendency to leave prey patches carrying ample prey. Moreover, predators may carry excretory crystals in the legs, may cease prey consumption and have a low excretion rate. Here, we satisfy Koch¿s postulates for a strain of Acaricomes phytoseiuli (DSM 14247) that was isolated from symptomatic female P. persimilis of the NR-population. Adult female P. persimilis were either exposed to a bacterial inoculum suspension (treatment) or to sterile distilled water (control) for a period of 3 days. Control and treated predators were examined for the occurrence of six symptoms characteristic for the NR-syndrome and the presence of A. phytoseiuli after inoculation. The latter was done by re-isolation of A. phytoseiuli from individual predators and predator feces placed on nutrient agar, by PCR-based identification and by histopathological studies of individual predators. The NR-syndrome was clearly induced in those predators that had been exposed to the bacterial inoculum (incubation time = 2¿5 days, fraction shrunken females = 80%), whereas predators exposed to water did not show the NR-syndrome. A. phytoseiuli was never isolated from control predators whereas it could be re-isolated from 60% of the treated predators (N = 37) and from feces of 41% of treated predators (N = 17). Only one day after exposure A. phytoseiuli could not be re-isolated from treated predators and their feces. Light and electron microscope studies of predators exposed to A. phytoseiuli revealed striking bacterial accumulations in the lumen of the alimentary tract together with extreme degeneration of its epithelium. In addition, bacterial foci also occurred in the fat body. These phenomena were not observed in control predators that were exposed to sterile water. The present data prove that A. phytoseiuli can infect the predatory mite P. persimilis and induce the NR-syndrome and characteristic histopathological changes in adult female P. persimilis. This is the first record of a bacterial pathogen in a phytoseiid mite and the first description of pathogenic effects of a bacterial species in the genus Acaricomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • induced plant volatiles
  • metaseiulus-occidentalis
  • biological-control
  • adult females
  • spider-mites
  • gen-nov
  • wolbachia
  • cardinium
  • prey
  • endosymbionts


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