Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research

Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-0983

+44 1478 350008


A New Species of Pit Mite (Trombidiformes: Harpirhynchidae) from the South American Rattlesnake (Viperidae): Morphological and Molecular Analysis

Mendoza-Roldan JA, Barros-Battesti DM, Bassini-Silva R, Jacinavicius FC, Nieri-Bastos FA, Franco FL and Marcili A

Background: Mites of the genus Ophioptes, parasitize a wide range of snakes’ species worldwide. Pit mites develop in capsules inside the connective tissue or scales of their hosts and all stages have a genital-anal opening with no connection to the midgut. To this date, there are 15 known species, of which five occur in the Neotropical region. In South America four species have been described from Colubrid snakes.

Methods: Mites were collected from the chin shields and infralabial area of the head, and the anterior third portion of the snake. Comparisons of South American species of pit mites are provided for identification purposes. SEM imaging and illustration were made to provide morphological details of the new species. DNA extraction, sequencing, and phylogeny inference were performed of the new mite species and other species of Trombidiformes mites found on reptiles and amphibians.

Results: Ophioptes ekans n. sp. is described from the pits made by the mite on the scales and skin of a South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus) in Campo Limpo Paulista, São Paulo state, Brazil, captured on January 2014. The Genbank accession numbers of the new species are KU891263, KU891264 and KU891265. DNA sequences were used for molecular phylogenetic inference. Three nymhpal stages were observed for this species.

Conclusion: This is the first record of a viper snake from the sub-family Crotaline parasitized by Ophioptes mites. Molecular analyses showed that molecular systematic of Trombidiformes mites is still unclear and more sequences and other genes are needed do better elucidate the relationships within the group. These are the first DNA sequences (18rRNA V4 region) of mites from the Ophioptinae subfamily.