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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331061

Research Project: Integrating Ecological Process Knowledge into Effective Management of Invasive Plants in Great Basin Rangelands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Change in abundance of three phytophagous mite species (Acari: Eriophyidae, Tetranychidae) on quackgrass in the presence of choke disease

item Rector, Brian
item CZARNOLESKI, MARCIN - Jagiellonian University
item SKORACKA, ANNA - Adam Mickiewicz University
item LEMBICZ, MARLENA - Adam Mickiewicz University

Submitted to: PLOS ONE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/29/2016
Publication Date: 9/1/2016
Citation: Rector, B.G., Czarnoleski, M., Skoracka, A., Lembicz, M. 2016. Change in abundance of three phytophagous mite species (Acari: Eriophyidae, Tetranychidae) on quackgrass in the presence of choke disease. PLoS One. 70(1):35-43.

Interpretive Summary: Many herbivorous mite species are important agricultural pests although some beneficial species have been used as biocontrol agents of invasive weeds. Very little is known about the interactions between herbivorous mites and endophytic fungi, the latter of which are becoming recognized as important, almost ubiquitous components of agricultural and ecological systems. This study focused on the interactions of three species of herbivorous mites with an endophytic fungus species that causes “choke” disease in a number of pasture grass species. Among the three studied mite species, two were less prevalent in the presence of the choke disease. By contrast, the third mite species was more prevalent in the presence of the choke disease. These results show that different species of herbivorous mites may have opposite reactions to the presence of endophytic fungi within their hosts, with implications for mite pest management as well as for weed biocontrol applications.

Technical Abstract: Phytophagous mites and endophytic fungi may interact when sharing a host plant, potentially influencing one another’s growth or population dynamics; however, interactions between them are poorly known and remain largely unexplored. In this study, quantitative associations between three species of phytophagous mites and the endophytic fungus Epichloë bromicola Leuchtm. & Schardl (Clavicipitaceae, Ascomycotina) on quackgrass, Elymus repens (L.) Gould are reported. The mites’ abundance was assessed on field-collected grass shoots that were either exhibiting choke disease symptoms or without the fungus. Overall, the abundance of Tetranychus urticae and Aculodes mckenziei was significantly lower on quackgrass plants infected by E. bromicola compared to plants without the fungus. Conversely, populations of Abacarus hystrix were significantly larger on plants colonised by the fungus than on uninfected plants. Thus, the presence of this endophytic fungus may have divergent effects on different phytophagous mite species although the basis of these effects is not yet known.