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A new and independently evolved case of xylophagy and the presence of intestinal flagellates in the cockroach Parasphaeria boleiriana (Dictyoptera, Blaberidae, Zetoborinae) from the remnants of the Brazilian Atlantic forest

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Parasphaeria boleiriana is a new example of a xylophagous and subsocial cockroach with intestinal flagellates, which was observed in remnants of the Brazilian semideciduous Atlantic forest. Parasphaeria boleiriana formed galleries by burrowing into the rotten trunks of softwood trees in the forest understory. Females stayed in chambers in the wood with their neonate nymphs for 12.4 ± 6.2 days (mean ± SD), but trophallaxis was not yet observed. According to multiseasonal sampling, nymphal development took longer than 1 year, but adults appeared to be short-lived. Nymphs did not disperse within the trunk during their development but remained relatively aggregated. Parasphaeria boleiriana fed on wood, and their digestive tract harboured five species of flagellates belonging to the order Trichomonadida. All these characteristics contrast with those of other known wood-feeding cockroaches, especially the low adult longevity and short period of brood care, associated with a high prevalence of intestinal flagellates.

Parasphaeria boleiriana est un nouvel exemple de blatte xylophage et subsociale pourvue de flagellés intestinaux; observé dans les fragments relictes de la forêt Atlantique brésilienne semi-caducifoliée. Parasphaeria boleiriana creuse des galeries dans des tronc pourris de bois tendre dans le sous-bois forestier. Les femelles demeurent dans des chambres creusées dans le bois avec leurs larves néonates durant 12,4 ± 6,2 jours (moyenne ± écart type); aucun comportement de trophallaxie n'a été observé jusqu'à présent. Un échantillonnage sur plusieurs saisons a permis de montrer que le développement larvaire dure plus de 1 an mais que les adultes ont une faible longévité. Les larves se dispersent peu dans les troncs au cours de leur développement et restent relativement regroupées. Parasphaeria boleiriana ingère du bois et son tube digestif abrite cinq espèces de flagellés appartenant à l'ordre des Trichomonadida. Ces caractéristiques contrastent par rapport à celles d'aux autres espèces de blattes xylophages déjà connues, notamment la faible longévité des adultes et la brièveté de la période de soins aux jeunes associés à la forte prévalence des flagellés intestinaux.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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