Wolbachia are endosymbiotic bacteria that are widely distributed in arthropods. The bacteria cause reproductive disorders and affect fitness-related traits of their hosts. The generalist predatory mite Neoseiulus cucumeris(Oudemans) (Acari: Phytoseiidae) is a cosmopolitan species commonly used as a biological control agent for mites. Here we investigated the effect of Wolbachia infection in the prey, Tetranychus urticae, on predation by N. cucumeris by using both functional response tests (effect of prey egg density on predation) and choice and no-choice tests. The rate of egg consumption decreased with increasing egg density for both infected and uninfected eggs (Type II responses). In a no-choice test, N. cucumeris consumed approximately equal numbers of infected and uninfected eggs, nymphs and adults but consumed fewer infected larvae than uninfected larvae. In the first choice test, different developmental stages of T. urticae were provided, N. cucumeris preferred eggs and larvae over nymphs and adults. Furthermore, to determine how pre-infestation, developmental stages of prey and bacterial infection affect the choice of N. cucumeris, the second choice test was performed. N. cucumeris preferred pre-infested leaf discs over leaf discs that had not been infested, and had a significant preference for uninfected prey, regardless of the presence of plant tissue. These results suggest that N. cucumeris is first attracted by volatiles emitted by attacked plants and then select their preferred prey.
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