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Laboulbeniales (Fungi, Ascomycota) on insects

Dear all, 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
  • 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).
Easy to study? YES! 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)

A suggestion
There are automated programs called spambots that scan the web for email addresses in order to sell them to spammers. It's probably not a good idea to post a working email link on a high-traffic site like this. Most of us insert with pieces of text in parts of the address that are easily recognized by humans as not part of the address, but that bots would have trouble deciphering: dhaelewatersATfas.harvard.edu, or dhaelewatersREPLACE THIS WITH "AT"fas.harvard.edu. Of course, your email address is no doubt already unavoidably exposed by virtue of listings at the university web site, so it may not be worth the inconvenience- but I thought I would mention it.

does this look like Laboulbeniales?
(I still have specimen in alcohol)

 
Laboulbenia clivinalis
Seems like Laboulbeniales to me - probably Laboulbenia clivinalis. For a firm identification I would need the specimen.

Where is the specimen collected from?

 
id = Laboulbenia clivinalis
I identified it as Laboulbenia clivinalis Thaxt. This species is supposed to be cosmopolitan, but - surprisingly - had not yet been recorded in (North) America!
Next to your Clivina americana, we also found it on Clivina fossor from the Boston Harbor Islands (Massachusetts).

 
Very interesting
thanks Danny

 
thats cool
It was from a collection taken in Pulaski Co., Kentucky. In fact, after I photographed that specimen last night, I finished sorting through the Carabidae in the sample and while doing so, found over 20 specimens of 8 species that appeared to have Laboulbeniales.

 
Check your email
I just dropped you a line about identifying the Laboulbeniales of the infected Carabids.
Thanks -Danny

Interesting
I occasionally see similar fungal infections on beetles (similar to the Bradycellus specimen photographed in the linked publication). I'll make a mental note to set aside any that I see.

Does method of collection (in alcohol for example) or age of a pinned specimen have any impact on your study of the fungus?

 
Storage of hosts
Hi Brad,
Thanks for your comment. I've noticed that is is harder to identify Laboulbeniales specimens when they come from older dried and pinned hosts.
I would suggest to store the hosts in 95% ethanol, that way we may be able to later-on use the Laboulbeniales in molecular protocols.

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