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Impact of living with kin/non-kin on the life history traits of Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae)

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In many vertebrates and invertebrates, living in a group may influence the life history traits, physiology and behaviour of its individual members, whereas genetic relatedness affects social interactions among individuals in a group. The two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae is characterised by a communal organization, in which silk production plays a key role. A silken web protects the colony against biotic and abiotic agents such as predators, competitors, humidity, wind, rain and acaricides. To evaluate the potential costs and benefits of being associated with genetically distant vs genetically close individuals in T. urticae, we assessed various fitness indicators (faecal pellet production, fecundity, death rate) in pure and mixed groups of two distinct populations of T. urticae: a red-form population from Tunisia and a green-form population from Belgium. If genetic origin had no influence, the values of fitness indicators in mixed groups composed of green and red individuals, would be intermediate between those of the pure green-form and red-form groups. Our results show that in a mixed group, faecal pellet production and death rate were statistically similar to the values obtained in the pure group of green-form individuals. Therefore, our study suggests that strain recognition ability may occur in T. urticae and that the genetic background of an individual may have a great impact on several of its life history traits.

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We are very grateful to Pr. Kaouthar Lebdi who supplied the red form of Tetranychus urticae, which was used in our experiments and to George van Impe for the useful discussions about T. urticae. We would like to thank the whole team of the ‘Laboratoire d’écologie et biogeographie’ for their help in data analysis. GJLG is supported by a grant from the FRIA (Fonds pour la Formation de la Recherche dans Industrie et l’Agriculture). The authors are also indebted to the National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS, Belgium) for funding through the Fund for Fundamental and Collective Research (FRFC, convention 2.4622.06). ACM is financially supported by IRSIB (Institut d’encouragement de la Recherche Scientifique et de l’Innovation de Bruxelles).

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Correspondence to Guillaume Jean Le Goff.

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Le Goff, G.J., Hance, T., Detrain, C. et al. Impact of living with kin/non-kin on the life history traits of Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae). Exp Appl Acarol 63, 37–47 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-014-9783-1

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  • Life history traits
  • Relatedness
  • Group living
  • Two-spotted spider mite
  • Tetranychus urticae