Macromite’s 1st Electron-Raster Challenge

What is it and why is it red?

A tradition on many blogs is to present a picture of a mystery organism for readers to identify. Some bloggers have even been known to use creative cropping to ensnare and mislead their readers. Given the obscurity of my organisms, though, it wouldn’t be much fun putting up a mystery mite – seems unlikely anyone but a specialist would be able to guess the answer. That would not be very sporting and I wonder if anyone would even bother to make a guess.

 In this case, however, I think the answer should be self-evident, so I’ll make this a bit more complicated. For 10 Macromite Points®*, name the organism and reason for its startling red colour. Here’s another hint – molecular characters support a surprising hypothesis of a relationship between the mystery and some very common organisms that are much more within my size comfort zone.

For 5 bonus points, name the pigment type used by the mystery above and the somewhat larger organism below for quite different purposes.

Mite habitat in a Sambucus racemosa sprucing up for a Spring fling

 *100 points are good for one free mite identification!

8 Responses to “Macromite’s 1st Electron-Raster Challenge”

  1. Adrian Thysse Says:

    My guess would be a spiny-headed worm (Acanthocephala) of some sort, and bright red due to the large amounts of hemoglobin. Possibly related to rotifers? And the color…caused by …ketchup? Memory fails me…something to do with carrots?

    • macromite Says:

      Hi Adrian,

      Snailseyeview has nailed the genus and the pigment, but the ultimate purpose still eludes.

      I think you’ve earned enough points for me to tell you if your specimen is a mite, but not which one.

      Cheers,

      Dave

  2. Snail Says:

    Is it Polymorphus minutus all loaded up with carotenoids?

    • macromite Says:

      Pretty close but probably not paradoxical enough and I think reason needs more than a yellowish pigment – but you are scoring points!

  3. myrmecos Says:

    Ensnare and mislead readers? Who would do such a dastardly thing?

  4. Ted C. MacRae Says:

    I would have been thrilled to narrow it down to Acanthocephala, since exoskeletons are more my comfort zone.

    That said, with the species name and pigment identity expose, I’m surprised no one has taken the bait to speculate on the function of the latter. I don’t have the answer, but it doesn’t seem to play a role in host manipulation.

  5. peteryeeles Says:

    I know I’m a little late, but I thought I might take a punt seeing as this is still open. Anything to do with inducing sterility in the host?

    http://www.paru.cas.cz/folia/pdfs/showpdf.php?pdf=20590

    (Feels a little like a wild stab in the dark, but hey… I’ve nothing to lose!)

    • macromite Says:

      Hey Peter,
      Actually, I’m the one who is late. As Ted pointed out, the just-so story about trout doesn’t hold water, but the story for this particular Polymorphus is more complicated. I’ve been trying to work a mite into the answer and I should have a posting coming up in the next few days. Still time for more guesses!

      PS – thanks for the link to the paper.

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