A Worker-Like Female of Myrmica sabuleti (Meinert, 1861) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) in a Pitfall Trap with Five Mermithids (Nematoda: Mermithidae) Protruding from the Gaster

Florian M. Steiner, Günter Köhler, Bernhard Seifert, Wolfgang Arthofer, Birgit Schlick-Steiner, Alfred Buschinger

Abstract


A worker-like female of Myrmica sabuleti (Meinert, 1861), pitfall-trapped near Jena, Germany, in late summer 2016, was infested by five postparasitic juvenile mermithids. They poked out of the ant´s gaster as a trail of seven filaments of various lengths. Apart from its swollen gaster, the ant differed from conspecifics in several morphometric parameters. Using both morphological and molecular techniques, the parasite family Mermithidae was confirmed. Our stray find raises multiple questions concerning the genus and species identity of the parasite, its biology, and the infestation rate of the host ant population. More mermithid awareness by the various researchers working with Myrmica will help, but directed fieldwork, experimental life-history research, and molecular studies are needed to emancipate progress in ant-mermithid research from serendipity.

Keywords


Ant parasite, nematode, gregarious parasitism, 18S, COI, morphometrics

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v66i3.4338

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