Bat flies (Streblidae and Nycteribiidae) are among the most specialized families of the order Diptera. Members of these two related families have an obligate ectoparasitic lifestyle on bats, and they are known disease vectors for their hosts. However, bat flies have their own ectoparasites: fungi of the order Laboulbeniales. In Europe, members of the Nycteribiidae are parasitized by four species belonging to the genus Arthrorhynchus. We carried out a systematic survey of the distribution and fungus-bat fly associations of the genus in central Europe (Hungary, Romania).
A species of Pseudotricharina, similar in sequence and morphology to the type species P. intermedia, is described from a soil bank in a Nothofagus forest of the Andes Mountains of Argentina. This is only the second species of Pseudotricharina to be described and the first known from the Southern Hemisphere.
Heterobasidion amyloideopsis sp. nov., a new poroid wood-inhabiting species from Pakistan, is introduced based on a combination of molecular evidence and morphological characteristics. We generated sequences from the nuclear internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS) and the large subunit ribosomal RNA gene (LSU), the gene encoding the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (RPB1) and the second subunit of RNA polymerase II (RPB2), focusing on two specimens from Pakistan. We performed phylogenetic analyses with maximum likelihood, maximum parsimony, and bayesian inference methods on two datasets (RPB1+RPB2 and ITS+nLSU+RPB1+RPB2). Both analyses supported the existence of the new species and showed that it formed a monophyletic group within the H. insulare complex as a sister to H. amyloideum. In addition to assessing the origin and divergence of this new species, we focused on the RPB1+RPB2 dataset to perform maximum likelihood based estimation and Bayesian binary analyses. Heterobasidion amyloideopsis is characterized by an annual habit, pileate basidiomata with a rust colored pileal surface, white, obtuse margin, a dimitic hyphal system with simple septate generative hyphae in the trama and clamp connections present on the contextual hyphae, amyloid skeletal hyphae and broadly ellipsoid, hyaline, fairly thick-walled, and asperulate basidiospores.
A new species, Laboulbenia camerunensis, parasitic on Curculio sp. from Cameroon, is described from a historical slide prepared by Roland Thaxter. It is the seventh species to be described from the family Curculionidae worldwide and the first from the
African continent. The species is recognized by the characteristic outer appendage. The latter consists of two superimposed hyaline cells, separated by a black constricted septum, the suprabasal cell giving rise to two branches, the inner of which is simple and hyaline, and the outer tinged with brown. A second blackish constricted septum is found at the base of this outermost branch. Description, illustrations, and comparison to other species are given.
Charles Darwin's famous voyage on the HMS Beagle led him around the world on a collecting journey that culminated in his theory of evolution. In 1835, the Beagle traveled to the island of Chiloé, and there, Darwin discovered and sent potatoes back to England. Darwin's interest in the potato and potato late blight spanned four decades. He used the potato to investigate questions of what a species is, understand its ravages by a plant pathogen, and investigate ideas on clonal versus sexual reproduction on species fitness. Darwin's letters reveal his thoughts on free trade, population growth and food security during the Irish famine. Darwin was involved in the first research to find resistance to late blight and personally funded a breeding program in Ireland. Here, we discuss Darwin's studies on potato late blight and its relevance today in studies of global migrations of the pathogen and development of durable resistance.
Hesperomyces virescens is a fungal ectoparasite (Laboulbeniales) that infects adult ladybirds. Research has recently focused on this parasite due to the discovery of its prevalence on the globally invasive harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis and for its potential use in studies of co-evolution and pathogen spread. We collected adults from ten species of ladybirds in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, and screened for the presence of H. virescens. Infections with H. virescens were found in the samples of two species, H. axyridis and the native Cheilomenes propinqua. This marks the first record of H. virescens on H. axyridis from the African continent and the first record on Cheilomenes worldwide.
The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), is native to Asia but has been intentionally introduced to many countries as a biological control agent of pest insects. In numerous countries, however, it has been introduced unintentionally. The dramatic spread of H. axyridis within many countries has been met with considerable trepidation. It is a generalist top predator, able to thrive in many habitats and across wide climatic conditions. It poses a threat to biodiversity, particularly aphidophagous insects, through competition and predation, and in many countries adverse effects have been reported on other species, particularly coccinellids. However, the patterns are not consistent around the world and seem to be affected by many factors including landscape and climate. Research on H. axyridis has provided detailed insights into invasion biology from broad patterns and processes to approaches in surveillance and monitoring. An impressive number of studies on this alien species have provided mechanistic evidence alongside models explaining large-scale patterns and processes. The involvement of citizens in monitoring this species in a number of countries around the world is inspiring and has provided data on scales that would be otherwise unachievable. Harmonia axyridis has successfully been used as a model invasive alien species and has been the inspiration for global collaborations at various scales. There is considerable scope to expand the research and associated collaborations, particularly to increase the breadth of parallel studies conducted in the native and invaded regions. Indeed a qualitative comparison of biological traits across the native and invaded range suggests that there are differences which ultimately could influence the population dynamics of this invader. Here we provide an overview of the invasion history and ecology of H. axyridis globally with consideration of future research perspectives. We reflect broadly on the contributions of such research to our understanding of invasion biology while also informing policy and people.