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Russian scientists wrap up study on myrmecophile acari in Western Siberia

December 23, 2016, 19:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Scientists have discovered 16 new and 28 previously unknown in Russia acarian species

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MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/ Scientists from the Tyumen State University (TyumSU) have completed the first Russian research on Western Siberian myrmecophile (living in close association with ants) acari, reported Andrey Tolstikov, the Chief of the International Integrated Research Laboratory dealing with climate, land-tenure, and biodiversity at TyumSU.

"It was the first complex research on myrmecophile acari on the territory of Western Siberia," said Andrey Tolstikov. "Tyumen acarologists studied the fauna, taxonomy, ecology, and relations between ants and mites."

Myrmecophile acari is a species of mites that lives in close association with ants. The acari can prey on inhabitants of an anthill, consume waste materials in the nests or parasitize on ants. According to Tolstikov, scientists discovered 16 new and 28 previously unknown in Russia acarian species.

During the project, for the first time, scientists used the methods of scanning electron microscopy to detect attachment spots of acari and ants. This was done since some species of myrmecophile acari are not able to move by themselves and use ants as a transport by attaching to them, moving in such a manner from one anthill to another.

Scientists have also found out, that the majority of ant species has its own specific acarian species, able to initiate sustainable interaction. Researchers suppose that it approves joint evolution of ants and mites, as their development is tightly interconnected and modification of the characteristics of one causes modifications of another.

The research was conducted over a period of three years as a part of the project of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation by scientists from the International Integrated Research Laboratory dealing with climate, land-tenure, and biodiversity.

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