The Mesostigmatid Mite Protogamasellus mica, an Effective Predator of Free-Living and Plant-Parasitic Nematodes


  • Graham R. Stirling
  • A. Marcelle Stirling
  • David E. Walter


biological control, free-living nematodes, mite, nematophagous, Pratylenchus zeae, predator, Protogamasellus mica, regulatory, root-lesion nematode, stunt nematode, suppression, Tylenchorhynchus annulatus


Protogamasellus mica was extracted from a sugarcane field in Australia and cultured on bacterial-feeding nematodes. Studies with various nematodes in laboratory arenas showed that one mite and its progeny reduced nematode numbers by between 26 and 50 nematodes/day. A bacterivore (Mesorhabditis sp.), a fungivore (Aphelenchus avenae), and two plant parasites (root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne javanica and root-lesion nematode, Pratylenchus zeae) were all reduced at much the same rate despite the fact that the nematodes are quite different in size and motility and belong to different trophic groups. When sugarcane was grown in the greenhouse for 8 wk, stunt nematode (Tylenchorhynchus annulatus), a plant parasite that feeds ectoparasitically on roots, was almost eliminated from pots inoculated with the mite, and numbers of microbivores and root-lesion nematode were markedly reduced. Huge reductions in nematode populations were also observed when mites were added to microcosms containing small quantities of defaunated soil. These results show that P. mica multiplies rapidly when nematodes are available as a food source and has the capacity to play a role in regulating populations of both plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes. Future research should focus on understanding the crop and soil management practices required to enable this mite and other predatory species to thrive.






Contributed Papers: Ecology and Behavior