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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #305383

Research Project: Mite Systematics and Arthropod Diagnostics with Emphasis on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: The Structure, Function and Evolution of a Novel Form of Fluid-feeding Apparatus for Microbivory

item Bolton, S. - The Ohio State University
item Bauchan, G. - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Ochoa, Ronald - Ron
item Klompen, H. - Ohio University

Submitted to: International Journal of Acarology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2015
Publication Date: 5/7/2015
Citation: Bolton, S.J., Bauchan, G.R., Ochoa, R., Klompen, H. 2015. The Structure, Function and Evolution of a Novel Form of Fluid-feeding Apparatus for Microbivory. International Journal of Acarology. 44:313-325.

Interpretive Summary: Soil mites are important in agricultural and environmental conservancy. This paper discusses the unusual mouth parts of several genera of soil mites from the United States. A discussion on the possible feeding behavior of soil mites is included. This study will be important to and used by scientists in biology, ecology and systematics.

Technical Abstract: Low temperature scanning electron microscopy (LT-SEM) has revealed anatomical details suggesting that Osperalycus and Gordialycus (Acariformes: Nematalycidae) have an unusual feeding apparatus that appears to be specialized for feeding on the fluid contents of small microorganisms (diameter '5 µm). Both mite genera have a feeding strategy that appears to involve picking up small microorganisms and placing them onto the subcapitulum for puncturing. However, they appear to have slightly different variants of the same basic rupturing mechanism. Whereas Gordialycus has evolved wide and convergent rutella to hold the microorganisms in place while pushing chelicerae into them, Osperalycus has evolved an apparently soft vessel into which a microorganism is inserted. The rutella reinforce this vessel while the chelicerae break up the microorganism. The evolutionary modifications of structures associated with this form of feeding are complex and dramatic; the modifications found for Gordialycus appear to be transitional with respect to Osperalycus. Both types of mouthpart apparatus seem to be adapted for extracting and ingesting the fluids of microorganisms in a way that minimizes waste, an appropriate specialization given the organically impoverished habitats in which these mites live.