Darkness increases the population growth rate of the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae

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Abstract

Background: The poultry red mite (PRM), Dermanyssus gallinae, is one of the most economically deleterious ectoparasites affecting egg-laying hens worldwide. It may be possible to control D. gallinae populations by manipulating lighting regimes within poultry units. However, no studies have clearly shown the effects of darkness on the population growth rate of D. gallinae. Methods: The effect of darkness on the population growth rate of D. gallinae was investigated, together with the first description of the molecular identity of the mite from China. Mite variables under two lighting regimens (1:23 h L:D and 12:12 h L:D) were compared, including number of mites and eggs, survival and feeding rates, engorgement, oviposition, hatchability and the life-cycle of D. gallinae. Results: The results showed that the number of mites (13,763 ± 956) and eggs (5424 ± 317) in the rearing system with prolonged darkness of 1:23 h L:D at 4th week were 2.4- and 3.6-fold higher than those under a conventional lighting regimen of 12:12 h L:D, respectively. The feeding rates of mites under prolonged darkness ranged from 36.7 ± 1.1% to 52.0 ± 7.0%, which were significantly higher than those under conventional lighting regimen (ranging from 22.6 ± 1.9% to 37.3 ± 1.6%). The mean weight of engorged females (0.26 ± 0.01 mg) and the mean number of eggs per female (on average 5.87 ± 0.36) under prolonged darkness were significantly higher than those under conventional lighting regimen (0.22 ± 0.01 mg and 3.62 ± 0.31, respectively). However, the survival rate ranging from 98.07 ± 0.10% to 98.93 ± 0.19%, hatchability of 97.93 ± 0.01% and the life-cycle of D. gallinae (9 days) was not affected by the lighting period. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrated that prolonged darkness significantly promoted the proliferation levels of D. gallinae, resulting in increased number of mites and eggs in the rearing system. The promoted population growth of D. gallinae was found to be related to the increased feeding rate, engorgement level and oviposition level of mites under prolonged darkness. The egg hatchability, the survival rates and the duration of life-cycle of D. gallinae were not affected by the light regimes.

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Wang, C., Ma, Y., Huang, Y., Su, S., Wang, L., Sun, Y., … Pan, B. (2019). Darkness increases the population growth rate of the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae. Parasites and Vectors, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-019-3456-1

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