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Host Selection by the Herbivorous Mite Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Acari: Tarsonemidae)


This study examined the host-selection ability of the broad mite Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Banks) (Acari: Tarsonemidae). To make long-distance-shifts from one host plant patch to another, broad mites largely depend on phoretic association with whiteflies. However, the host plants of whiteflies and broad mites are not necessarily the same. We determined the host-preference and acceptance of free-moving and phoretic broad mites using two behavioral bioassays. We used a choice test to monitor host selection by free-moving mites. In the case of phoretic mites, we compared their rate of detachment from the phoretic vector Bemisia tabaci placed on leaves taken from various host plants. The suitability of the plant was further determined by monitoring mite’s fecundity and its offspring development. We compared the mites’ responses to young and old cucumber (Cucumis sativus cv. ‘Kfir’) leaves (3rd and 8–9th leaf from the apex, respectively), and two tomato (Solanum lycopersicum cvs. ‘M82’ and ‘Moneymaker). Free-moving mites of all stages and both sexes preferred young cucumber leaves to old cucumber leaves and preferred young cucumber rather than young tomato leaves, demonstrating for the first time that broad mites are able to choose their host actively. As for phoretic mated females, although eventually most of the mites abandoned the phoretic vector, the rate of detachment from the whitefly vector was host dependent and correlated with the mites’ fitness on the particular host. In general, host preference of phoretic female mites resembled that of the free-moving female. Cues used by mites for host selection remain to be explored.

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We wish to thank Prof. Uri Gerson and Dr. Eric Palevsky for providing helpful discussion, Dr. Hillary Voet and Mrs. Miri Zarhi for help with statistic analysis. We also thank Mrs. Svetlana Kontsedalov for providing the Bemisia tabaci used in our studies, Mr. Saadia Reneh for plant cultivation and our three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

This manuscript is contribution no. 503/07 of the Institute of Plant Protection, Volcani Center, ARO, Israel.

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Correspondence to Victoria Soroker.

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Alagarmalai, J., Grinberg, M., Perl-Treves, R. et al. Host Selection by the Herbivorous Mite Polyphagotarsonemus latus (Acari: Tarsonemidae). J Insect Behav 22, 375–387 (2009).

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  • Broad mite
  • phoresis
  • behavior
  • Cucumis sativus
  • Solanum lycopersicum