Balancing in- and out-breeding by the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis

Demet Atalay, Peter Schausberger

In- and out-breeding depressions are commonly observed phenomena in sexually reproducing organisms with a patchy distribution pattern, and spatial segmentation and/or isolation of groups. At the genetic level, inbreeding depression is due to increased homozygosity, whereas outbreeding depression is due to inferior genetic compatibility of mates. Optimal outbreeding theory suggests that intermediate levels of mate relatedness should provide for the highest fitness gains. Here, we assessed the fitness consequences of genetic relatedness between mates in plant-inhabiting predatory mites Phytoseiulus persimilis, which are obligatory sexually reproducing but haplo-diploid. Both females and males arise from fertilized eggs but males lose the paternal chromosome set during embryogenesis, dubbed pseudo-arrhenotoky. Phytoseiulus persimilis are highly efficacious in reducing crop-damaging spider mite populations and widely used in biological control. Using iso-female lines of two populations, from Sicily and Greece, we assessed the fecundity of females, and sex ratio of their offspring, that mated with either a sibling, a male from the same population or a male from the other population. Additionally, we recorded mating latency and duration. Females mating with a male from the same population produced more eggs, with a lower female bias, over a longer time than females mating with a sibling or with a male from the other population. Mating latency was unaffected by mate relatedness; mating duration was disproportionally long in sibling couples, likely indicating female reluctance to mate and sub-optimal spermatophore transfer. Our study provides a rare example of in- and out-breeding depression in a haplo-diploid arthropod, supporting the optimal outbreeding theory.

External organisation(s)
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Experimental & Applied Acarology
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106051 Behavioural biology
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