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Indian scientists discover a new mite

india Updated: Oct 26, 2009 17:24 IST
Satyen Mohapatra
Satyen Mohapatra
Hindustan Times
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The Director General Indian Council of Agricultural Research Mangla Rai now has a mite - usually a eight legged organism resembling a spider - named after him called "Mangalaus". This newly discovered mite genus strikingly has only two pairs of legs and also a pair of eyes.

The discovery of this entirely new group of mite which is not visible to the naked eye was formally announced today.

Talking to the Hindustan Times Principal Scientist and National Co ordinator for the ICAR Network Project on Insect Biosystematics B.B.Ramamurthy said, "We gave this name to this mite genus , because we wanted to dedicate the find to Dr.Mangala Rai for his interest in insect bio systematics."

He said the mite was found about three months ago in Indian Agricultural Research Institute farms , Pusa. "We wanted to make the announcement only after studying all the technical aspects , literature and consulting international experts like James Amrine , West Virginia Univerisity , USA, and Ronald Ochoa of United States Department of Agriculture," he added.

"It is very rare to get such worm like mite which is a completely new genus,"he said.

Mangalaus is one of the smallest of organisms with body size of 200 microns (one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter).

Plant mite feed on leaves , cause yellowing of leaves, and affect roots, stems and flowers. Mangalaus particularly strikes the leaves of the plant Indian cherry, 'lasora' which is a wild tree found all over India.The fruits of lasora are edible as well as it is used for medicinal purposes,he added.

The presence of Mangalaus on the leaves makes the plant secrete hormones which lead to abnormal growth of the leaf tissues in lasora changing the structure of the leaves. Though Mangalaus has not reached a pest status today it may, he added.

Mangalaus is found to be "strikingly distinct" from mites known anywhere in the world and some of the special characteristics were found only when one looked at it through the Low Temperature -Scanning Electron Microscope,he said.

"It has got an eye like ocelli which is not there in any of the mites of this group in the world. These mites also lack hair structure in the tibia of the leg, "he added.

The similarity of the name to Director General ICAR Dr Mangala Rai is on purpose as the scientists wanted to dedicate the find to their DG for his interest in insect bio systamatics.