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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Successful analysis of gut contents in fungal-feeding oribatid mites by combining body-surface washing and PCR

Remén, Cecilia; Krüger, Manulea; Lundhagen, Anna


The feeding habits of soil mesofauna have been a mystery for decades, and depending on the methods used, different degrees of feeding specialisation have been observed. A new way to study the almost unknown feeding habits of soil mesofauna e.g. oribatid mites is to use PCR-based techniques. When applying PCR on these small organisms, the low amount of ingested DNA can cause problems. Even more important is to certify that the amplified DNA does not originate from body-surface contamination. The aim of this study was to analyse if washing of the body surface combined with PCR can be a successful approach when identifying the food ingested by fungivorous mites. The method was developed in a laboratory system where we used the oribatid mite Archegozetes longisetosus as a model organism due to its relatively short life cycle and ease of laboratory culturing. The results demonstrated that surface contamination is a serious problem. Both washing and dissection was needed to remove surface contamination on such small organisms. To get a reliable result the samples also had to contain at least five pooled guts, but preferably ten. This is the first step towards a successful use of PCR-based methods to study natural feeding habits of species most likely contaminated on the body surface. When modified for field conditions, the results obtained by this method have a high potential to answer many questions about the animals feeding habits, and their functional role in the soil. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Oribatid; Fungi; PCR; Contamination; Wash; Gut; Fungivore; Archegozetes longisetosus; Laccaria laccata

Published in

Soil Biology and Biochemistry
2010, Volume: 42, number: 11, pages: 1952-1957

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      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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