Ultrastructural characterization of Acarispora falculifera n.gen., n.sp., a new microsporidium (Opisthokonta: Chytridiopsida) from the feather mite Falculifer rostratus (Astigmata: Pterolichoidea).
Predatory mites of the family Phytoseiidae are valued natural enemies that provide effective pest control in greenhouses and on agricultural crops. Mass-reared phytoseiids are occasionally associated with microorganisms and although their effects are not always apparent, some are pathogenic and reduce host fitness. Invertebrate pathogens are encountered more frequently in mass production systems than in nature because rearing environments often cause overcrowding and other stresses that favour pathogen transmission and increase an individual’s susceptibility to disease. Although unidentified microorganisms have been reported in phytoseiids, bacteria and microsporidia have been detected with considerable frequency. The bacterium Acaricomes phytoseiuli is associated with an accumulation of birefringent crystals in the legs of Phytoseiulus persimilis and infection reduces the fitness of this spider mite predator. Wolbachia, detected in Metaseiulus occidentalis and other phytoseiids, may cause cytoplasmic incompatibilities that affect fecundity. However, the effects of Rickettsiella phytoseiuli on P. persimilis are unknown. Microsporidia are spore-forming pathogens that infect Neoseiulus cucumeris, N. barkeri, M. occidentalis and P. persimilis. Microsporidia cause chronic, debilitating disease and these pathogens often remain undetected in mass-rearings until a decrease in productivity is noticed. Routine screening of individuals is important to prevent diseased mites from being introduced into existing mass-rearings and to ensure that mite populations remain free from pathogens. The means by which bacteria and microsporidia are detected and strategies for their management in phytoseiid mass-rearings are discussed.