Submitted to: Chemoecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2003
Publication Date: 12/1/2003
Citation: SOROKER, V., NELSON, D.R., BAHAR, O., RENEH, S., YABLONSKI, S., PALEVSKY, E. WHITEFLY WAX AS A CUE FOR PHORESY IN THE BROAD MITE, POLYPHAGOTARSONEMUS LATUS (ACARI: TARSONEMIDAE). CHEMOECOLOGY. 2003. v. 13. p. 163-168.
Interpretive Summary: A means of dispersal is important for the wingless Acari (mites and ticks) in order for them to leave unsuitable areas for their survival. The only means of dispersal available to them are walking, passive aerial dispersal, or phoresy. Phoresy is the behavior in which one animal seeks out and attaches to another species for dispersal. The broad mite, Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Acari: Tarsonemidae), a plant pest throughout the world, feeds on terminal leaves and flower buds of a wide variety of plants causing malformations and stunted growth. This mite exhibits a phoretic relationship, apparently specific to whiteflies. Under field conditions most broad mites, caught in sticky traps, are attached to whiteflies. Mite attachment to whiteflies such as Bemisia tabaci and Aleyrodes singularis is greatly diminished if the cuticular surface waxes are removed from the whiteflies. If waxy material from the whiteflies is placed on a leaf, the broad mites gather in the treated area and crawl onto the leaf trichomes as if they were legs of a whitefly. Similar waxy material from the mealybug, Planococcus citri had no effect on the behavior of the mites. The mites do not attach to other winged plant insects such as thrips and aphids. These results indicate the involvement of chemical cues, specifically from waxy material on the surface of whiteflies, in the recognition process of the phoretic host by the broad mite and/or the induction of the attachment behavior to whitefly legs or leaf trichomes.
Technical Abstract: The broad mite, Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Acari: Tarsonemidae) exhibits a phoretic relationship, apparently specific to whiteflies. Under field conditions most broad mites caught in sticky traps are attached to whiteflies. Under laboratory conditions, attachment occurs equally well in the dark and light. Mites do not differentiate between the sexes of their phoretic host Bemisia tabaci. However, mite attachment to B. tabaci is greatly diminished by washing the host with various organic solvents, particularly chloroform. The effect of whitefly waxy particles on broad mite behavior was studied using wax from the whitefly, Aleyrodes singularis, and from the mealybug, Planococcus citri. Broad mites were not only attracted specifically to the A. singularis waxy particles-treated leaf areas but were also attached to leaf trichomes in this area. Waxy material from P. citri did not promote attraction of the mites to leaf trichomes or to themselves. The results of this study indicate the involvement of chemical cues from whitefly waxy particles in the recognition process of the phoretic host and/or the induction of the attachment behavior to whitefly legs or leaf trichomes.