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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2005 Aug;8(4):436-40.

Biotic interactions of mites, plants and leaf domatia.

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  • 1Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), C.P. 6109, 13083-970, Campinas, SP, Brazil.


Leaf domatia, minute structures that typically house mites and other small arthropods, are produced by an impressive number of plants; however, their role in mediating plant-mite mutualism has only recently been elucidated. New evidence indicates that domatia function primarily as refuges for beneficial mites against predators. The presence of domatia therefore results in more beneficial mites on leaves, fewer pathogen attacks and reduced leaf herbivory. Unexpectedly, herbivorous mites are specialized domatia inhabitants of some plants. By providing refuges for herbivores, however, domatia may stabilize interactions between predator and their mite prey and thereby reduce the chances of herbivore outbreaks. Understanding the ecological mechanisms that promote beneficial interactions between mites and plants could have important implications for pest management.

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