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Eriophyid mites on spotted gums: population and histological damage studies of an emerging pest

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Nahrung, H. F. and Waugh, R. (2012) Eriophyid mites on spotted gums: population and histological damage studies of an emerging pest. International Journal of Acarology, 38 (7). pp. 549-556. ISSN 0164-7954

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01647954.2012.709277


A suite of co-occurring eriophyid mite species are significant pests in subtropical Australia, causing severe discolouration, blistering, necrosis and leaf loss to one of the region's most important hardwood species, Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata (F. Muell.) K. D. Hill & L. A. S. Johnson (Myrtaceae). In this study, we examined mite population dynamics and leaf damage over a 1-year period in a commercial plantation of C. citriodora subsp. variegata. Our aims were to link the incidence and severity of mite damage, and mite numbers, to leaf physical traits (moisture content and specific leaf weight (SLW)); to identify any seasonal changes in leaf surface occupancy (upper vs. lower lamina); and host tree canopy strata (upper, mid or lower canopy). We compared population trends with site rainfall, temperature and humidity. We also examined physical and anatomical changes in leaf tissue in response to mite infestation to characterize the plants' physiological reaction to feeding, and how this might affect photosynthesis. Our main findings included positive correlations with leaf moisture content and mite numbers and with mite numbers and damage severity. Wet and dry leaf mass and SLW were greater for damaged tissue than undamaged tissue. Mites were distributed equally throughout the canopy and on both leaf surfaces. No relationships with climatic factors were found. Damage symptoms occurred equally and were exactly mirrored on both leaf surfaces. Mite infestation increased the overall epidermal thickness and the number and size of epidermal cells and was also associated with a rapid loss of chloroplasts from mesophyll cells beneath damage sites. The integrity of the stomatal complex was severely compromised in damaged tissues. These histological changes suggest that damage by these mites will negatively impact the photosynthetic efficiency of susceptible plantation species.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Additional Information:Nahrung, Helen F. Waugh, Rachel
Subjects:Forestry > Research. Experimentation
Plant pests and diseases
Live Archive:25 Feb 2014 06:06
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:49

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