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Rove Beetle? - Philonthus

Rove Beetle? - Philonthus
Soquel, Santa Cruz County, California, USA
June 7, 2011
I have to know! Did a grass seed get lodged in its side, or what?

Images of this individual: tag all
Rove Beetle? - Philonthus Rove Beetle? - Philonthus Rove Beetle? - Philonthus Rove Beetle? - Philonthus Rove Beetle? - Philonthus Rove Beetle? - Philonthus Rove Beetle? - Philonthus

Moved from ID Request.

Looks like it's probably a member of Laboulbeniales, probably in the genus Teratomyces, but difficult to tell. Let me know if you'd like me to take a look at the fungus!

It seems that Laboulbs have a rep for ...
It seems that Laboulbs have a rep for being very host specific parasites. According to one source sometimes even have a preference for a particular side on an insect. That's pretty cool. I don't know if this one is host specific, but if so, it would be a neat tool for identification. I am just a humble photography hobbyist, so I don't what the implications are, beyond there being a certain satisfaction that comes from learning the classification of the things I photograph, and what makes them unique.

If I come across this again, would it be a good idea to try removing the fungus with tweezers? If I had a stationary target there might be a chance of getting a higher resolution shot.

Huh -- now that I look more c
Huh -- now that I look more closely I actually see two thalli.

I did my PhD on Labouls. The problem with identifying arthropods based on their parasites is that the parasites are so infrequently seen that when you can survey an area intensively, you wind up seeing that host specificity goes down the more hosts your see. They are remarkably host specific, but they are not *that* host specific. You will find approximately 1.5 host species for every fungal species, and that number will undoubtedly rise as we discover more hosts that are infected with a given fungal species.

Lauren Goldmann and Alex Weir, colleagues of mine, just published a fantastic study on position-specificity. The whole paper is available right now from Mycologia website. Here is the abstract:

For my PhD I also studied a system of position specificity that is somewhat different from the one above, but was unable to get sequences for some of the species. The beetle is Bembidion texanum (=Bembidion picipes). In any case, that system only has one species pair that is morphologically similar. So I expect in that system you will find that the different morphological species, except for one pair, are actually distinct. The genus Laboulbenia proved difficult for me to get DNA sequences from.

There can be a preference for 'sides' of the host, but in my case this was population-dependent and local. In some locales in Illinois, all the infections of parasite L. odobena were on the right side of the hosts, and in other locales in Illinois, 90% of the infections were on the right side. So a LOT of sampling will reveal patterns not seen before. I also discovered 2 species on this beetle not seen by Benjamin initially in the 1950s. It can take a few years of sampling to find rare species.

If you want to remove the fungus, you need to poke at the base with a minuten pin in a pin holder. I would also do this in a drop of glycerol on a microscope slide. it takes a lot of dexterity to do it in the open air and not lose the fungus, because it's so firmly attached it will just spring off when you apply the force necessary to dislodge the "foot." I would not remove the fungi in alcohol: you will lose them altogether.

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