Parasitology Research

, Volume 113, Issue 12, pp 4355–4361 | Cite as

From cuckoos to chickens: a caught-in-the-act case of host shift in feather mites (Arachnida: Acari: Psoroptoididae)

  • Fabio Akashi HernandesEmail author
  • Luiz Gustavo A. Pedroso
  • Sergey V. Mironov
Original Paper


Feather mites are highly specialized permanent ectosymbionts recorded from all recently recognized bird orders. These mites, specialized to live in the plumage of their hosts, rarely cause any visible damage to their specific hosts. Recently described feather mite Allopsoroptoides galli Mironov (Acariformes: Psoroptoididae) was reported to cause severe mange in chickens in Brazil, leading to unprecedented economic losses. Until now, the natural host of A. galli remained unknown. In this paper, we report its true wild host, the Guira cuckoo Guira guira (Cuculiformes: Cuculidae). In addition, a previously unknown heteromorphic form of males is described from the mite population distributed on its natural host. We also speculate a possible scenario by which this mite species could have been horizontally transferred from the wild populations of the natural host to the secondary hosts.


Horizontal transfer Allopsoroptoides galli Parasitism Mange Chicken 



We are grateful to the late professor Angelo Pires do Prado (in memoriam), David Vilas Boas Filho, Michel P. Valim, Francine M. Lambrecht, and Gustavo O. Almeida for collecting the specimens of the Guira cuckoo; to Carlos H.W. Flechtmann for the information on the chicken farms observed in Bastos; and to Michel P. Valim and Armando C. Cicchino for the identification of lice eggs. This study was supported by the FAPESP—São Paulo Research Foundation (FAH: 2011/50145-0, 2011/20805-8), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) scholarship to LGAP, and the Russian Fund of Basic Research (No. 13-04-00608) for SVM.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabio Akashi Hernandes
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luiz Gustavo A. Pedroso
    • 1
  • Sergey V. Mironov
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Estadual PaulistaRio ClaroBrazil
  2. 2.Zoological InstituteRussian Academy of SciencesSaint PetersburgRussia

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