24 May 2017
Experimental and Applied Acarology
The occurrence of refractive crystals (aka guanine) is characterised in the Malpighian tubules of the free-living predatory parasitiform soil mite Pergamasus longicornis (Berlese) from a temporal series of histological sections during and after feeding on larval dipteran prey. The tubular system behaves as a single uniform entity during digestion. Malpighian mechanisms are not the 'concentrative' mechanism sought for the early stasis in gut size during the second later phase of prey feeding. Nor are Malpighian changes associated with the time of 'anal dabbing' during feeding. Peak gut expansion precedes peak Malpighian tubule guanine crystal occurrence in a hysteretic manner. There is no evidence of Malpighian tubule expansion by uid alone. Crystals are not found during the slow phase of liquidised prey digestion. Malpighian tubules do not appear to be osmoregulatory. Malpighian guanine is only observed 48h to 10d after the commencement of feeding. Post digestion guanine crystal levels in the expanded Malpighian tubules are high - peaking as a pulse 5d after the start of feeding (i.e. after the gut is void of food at 52.5h). The half-life of guanine elimination from the tubules is 53h. Evidence for a physiological input cascade is found - the effective half-life of guanine appearance in the Malpighian tubules being 7.8-16.7h. Crystals are found present at all times in the lumen of the rectal vesicle and not anywhere else lumenally in the gut at all. No guanine was observed inside gut cells. There is no evidence for the storage in the rectal vesicle of a `pulse' of Malpighian excretory products from a discrete `pulse' of prey ingestion. A latent egestive common catabolic phase in the gut is inferred commencing 12.5h after the start of feeding which may cause the rectal vesicle to expand due to the catabolism of current or previous meals. Malpighian tubules swell as the gut contracts in size over time post-prandially. There is evidence that at a gross level the contents of the rectal vesicle are mechanically voided by the physical mechanism of overall gut expansion altering the effective idiosomal volume available during prey ingestion. A complete cycle of feeding, digestion, egestion and excretion is approximately 9d. Hunger/starvation likely commences at 10d after the start of feeding. Up to 15d may be needed to completely clear the idiosoma of excretory material. Nomograms for predicting the likely feeding time of mites from observations of idiosomal guanine in field samples indicate that as few as 5-6 mites scoring positive for Malpighian tubule guanine out of 20 infers a high probability that the typical time from start of feeding in a population sample was about 6d (range 3-8d) ago.
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