Epizoic cyanobacteria associated with harvestmen (Arachnida: Opiliones) from Tobago, West Indies


  • Virginia A. Young Department of Biology, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia 31207 USA
  • Michael K. Moore Department of Biology, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia 31207 USA
  • Victor R. Jr. Townsend Department of Biology, Virginia Wesleyan College, 5817 Wesleyan Drive, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23455, USA


Camouflage, Cryptogam, Fungi, Sclerosomatidae, Tegument


On Tobago, there is a species of sclerosomatid harvestman (Prionostemma sp.) that serves as a host to a variety of cryptogams. In the living condition, the exterior of the harvestmen is light blue in appearance, which quickly fades to a bluish- green following preservation in ethanol. Observations of specimens with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed the occurrence of several types of epizoic organisms, including prokaryotic cells (several sizes of bacilli and cocci) and at least two species of fungi. Moreover, using PCR with specific primers, we confirmed the presence of at least one species of epizoic cyanobacterium occurring on the tegument of the harvestmen. The tegument of the carapace and abdomen of Prionostemma sp. is full of numerous small pits that may facilitate colonisation and survival by epizoic organisms.





Research Papers