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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT OF INVASIVE WEEDS IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES

Location: Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research

Title: Host specificity and specialization in eriophyoid mites

Authors
item Skoracka, Anna -
item Smith, Lincoln
item Oldfield, George -
item Cristofaro, Massimo -
item Amrine, JR., James -

Submitted to: Experimental and Applied Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2009
Publication Date: July 1, 2010
Citation: Skoracka, A., Smith, L., Oldfield, G., Cristofaro, M., Amrine, Jr., J.W. 2010. Host specificity and specialization in eriophyoid mites. Experimental and Applied Acarology. 51(1-3):93-113.

Interpretive Summary: Eriophyoid mites are among the smallest arthropods and include about 4000 described species. They all feed on plants, and are generally considered to be highly host specific. Some species are important pests of crops and others have been used as classical biological control agents of invasive alien weeds. Because of their small size they are difficult to study, so relatively little is known about their biology and taxonomy. We reviewed available information and summarized what is known about the degree of host plant specificity of eriophyoid mites based on field records and experiments. Our results indicate that 80% of eriophyoid species have been found on only one host plant species. However, some species that were thought to occur on many host plants, later proved to consist of a group of "cryptic" species that were each specific to one host plant. Field records may also include cases of "accidental" occurrence, in which a mite is found on a plant that it does not feed on. There is a great need for more experimental data to confirm which plants are suitable hosts and to determine what factors affect host plant specificity.

Technical Abstract: We analyzed a database containing 3957 records of eriophyoid species and 7699 records of host plants. About 80% of eriophyoids were found on only one host plant species, 95% on hosts within one genus, and 99% on hosts within one family. Thus, most eriophyoid species are monophagous (feed on only one plant species). The family Diptilomiopidae has the highest proportion of monophagous species, and Eriophyidae and Phytoptidae have the fewest. Species that occur on more than one host tend to occur on plants that are closely related. Vagrant" eriophyoids have a higher proportion of monophagous species than those that form galls or that typically hide in plant structures. "There was no difference in the degree of specificity among species that either infest deciduous or evergreen plant species. Field and laboratory host specificity tests for several eriophyoid species and their importance for biological control of weeds are described. Experiments to measure host plant specificity have sometimes shown that mites can feed and reproduce on more species under laboratory or greenhouse conditions than in the field. Future work should focus on confirmation of field host ranges by experimental study, and on elucidation of what factors affect host plant specificity.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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