I've recently joined this BugGuide.net website in order to get in touch with (more) entomologists. I am setting up my PhD research atthe Farlow Herbarium (Cambridge, MA) right now, working on Laboulbeniales.
- Laboulbeniales (Fungi, Ascomycota) are obligate ectoparasites living associated with arthropods, mostly insects. The order consists of some 2.050 species in 140 genera. Unlike other fungi, Laboulbeniales have no mycelium, instead they produce thalli directly from sticky ascospores. Thalli can develop on virtually any site of the host: the elytra, abdomen, head, eyes, tarsi, anetennae ... In spite of their parasitic nature, most Laboulbeniales have little or not even any effect on their host.
- Ten insect orders are known to host Laboulbeniales: Blattodea (cockroaches), Coleoptera (beetles), Dermaptera (earwigs), Diptera (flies), Hemiptera (true bugs), Hymenoptera (ants), Isoptera (termites), Mallophaga, Orthoptera, Thysanoptera
Easy to study? YES!
- Some 80% of the more or less 2.000 described species of Laboulbeniales parasitize Coleoptera. There seems to be more laboulbenialean diversication in Staphylinidae (49 genera, with relatively few species per genus) than in any other family. In Carabidae we have only recorded 15 genera so far, but these sometimes have hundreds of species in one single genus (Laboulbenia).
Until now, not many insect collections have been screened for the presence of Laboulbeniales parasites. However, large systematic collections of easily examined specimens of different host groups are easily available for study in many major natural history museums all of the world. There is no doubt that a systematic study of insect collections will result in a considerable increase of the number of Laboulbeniales. In order to find these taxa and further elaborate the inventory of the Laboulbeniales and their hosts, cooperation between mycologists and entomologists is more than welcome. When you are aware of some large collections that may include infected specimens or you collected yourself infected specimens of insects (or millipedes, even mites), you are most welcome to send me an email about it, to send the specimens - I'm always in for cooperation.
Thanks for reading! Hope to hear from you, Danny Haelewaters (MSci)