Ludmila Penoni (Undergrad)


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Ludmila is investigating the effects of a presumably phoretic mite (Macrocheles muscaedomesticae) on host flight endurance. Even though this mite is not thought to be parasitic, she is finding evidence for a physiological cost of harbouring mites. Fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) that have mites attached to them for 24-48 hrs exhibit a significant reduction in flight time, even though the mites themselves are experimentally removed just prior to the flight assay. While the physical presence of mites clearly impact flight aerodynamics, past associations with mites are also sufficient to adversely impact flight endurance. These results cast doubt on the current status of this species of mite as purely phoretic; future work is needed to verify if this mite is indeed feeding on host hemolymph or tissue.

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