We describe multiple observations of epizoic cyanobacteria occurring on external surfaces of a species of sclerosomatid harvestman (Prionostemma sp.) in Costa Rica. In the field we collected four adults (three males, one female) that had green films growing upon the dorsal surfaces of the carapace and abdominal scutum. Examination by SEM revealed dense clusters of what appeared to be small prokaryotic cells (1–5 µm in diameter) covering the external surfaces of the carapace, abdominal scutum and coxae. We extracted DNA from the films of two specimens. The DNA was used as a template to amplify the intergenic spacer region (IGS) between the beta and alpha phycocyanin subunits (a signature DNA sequence, unique to cyanobacteria) by PCR. We successfully amplified an approximately 700 base pair product using DNA extracted from the film and did not obtain any product from the harvestman lacking the film. Our observation represents the second confirmed occurrence of epizoic cyanobacteria on Neotropical harvestmen. This is the first report of cyanobacteria associated with a sclerosomatid anywhere and the first known case from Central America.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2