Taxonomy and co-evolution of Trichomycetes (gut-inhabiting fungi)

and their Chironomidae (Diptera) hosts

Trichomycetes - Fungi Associated with Arthropods

Research supported by a National Science Foundation Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) award, DEB-9521811

Summary

Trichomycetes are a cosmopolitan class of fungi that grow obligately in the guts of insects, crustaceans, and millipedes that live in freshwater, marine, or terrestrial habitats. This project involves the taxonomy and evolution of these gut fungi and their hosts, with special emphasis on the dipteran family Chironomidae (midges). Studies are intended to enlarge our knowledge of the kinds and distribution of extant species, and phylogenetic and biogeographic studies will provide theories about how these fungi and their insect hosts have co-evolved.

Many Trichomycetes appear to be commensalistic, but under particular circumstances the gut fungi may provide their hosts with some essential organic nutrients. At least one species, Smittium morbosum, is lethal to mosquito larvae, and fungal species in blackflies and other insects are known to invade the ovary and produce cysts which are "oviposited" by females in lieu of eggs, thus reducing the fertility in populations of those kinds of aquatic insects.

Chironomidae are very abundant in many aquatic systems and they may dominate the species composition in aquatic insect communities. Special consideration will be given to collecting and studying the primitive subfamilies Aphroteniinae, Podonominae and selected circumpolar Diamesinae, all of which are expected to include larval stages of species with trichomycete gut fungi. When possible, larvae will be reared to provide species identifications. It is hypothesized that Harpellales, the most primitive order of gut fungi, began co-evolving with their primitive aquatic dipteran hosts (Nematocera), as well as Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera, shortly after such insects began evolving some 200-250 million B.P. Phylogenies of Chironomidae and their gut fungi will be analyzed to determine if they are congruent and therefore indicative of co-evolution.

Species of only one order of Trichomycetes (Harpellales) are culturable at present, and attempts to obtain axenic isolates of additional species will be attempted. Cultures, as well as PCR-amplified DNA from field-collected specimens, will be used for DNA sequencing in order to extend current morphological, serological and isozymic data to be used in developing phylogenies of  Trichomycetes through cladistic analysis. A worldwide comprehensive data base will be developed for all species of Trichomycetes, and illustrated interactive keys will be designed for their identification.

For more general information on Trichomycetes, go to Lichtwardt, 1986, 1996, Misra, 1998, and Misra and Lichtwardt, 2000, in World Literature on Trichomycetes (see below).



NEW!  Lucid Keys

NEW!  Trichomycetes Specify database access



Revised edition of THE TRICHOMYCETES: Fungal Associates of Arthropods. 

 


 
  Projects



Cultures Deposited With the American Type Culture Collection World Literature on Trichomycetes
Illustrated Genera of Trichomycetes - a book For PEET's Sake!
Cultured Species of Trichomycetes Publications since 1995
Cultures of Trichomycetes avaiable from the ARSEF collection.
 

 


Personnel
 

Robert W. Lichtwardt, Principal Investigator 
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA 

licht@ku.edu

Curriculum vitae

Leonard C. Ferrington, Jr., Co-Principal Investigator 
Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA 

ferri016@umn.edu

Kerry L. O'Donnell, Collaborator 
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, ARS, USDA, Peoria IL, USA

ODONNEKL@ncaur.usda.gov

Stephen W. Peterson, Collaborator 
National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, ARS, USDA, Peoria, IL, USA

peterssw@mail.ncaur.usda.gov
Roger D. Grigg, Postdoctoral Research Associate (1995-1997). Deceased 2005.
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA 

J. K. Misra, Postdoctoral Research Associate (1997-1998) 
Mycological Research Unit, Department of Botany, Sri J. N. Mahavidyalaya, Lucknow, India 

Claudia C. López Lastra, Ph.D., Trainee 
Centro de Estudios Parasitológicos y de Vectores, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 
La Plata, Argentina 

Merlin M. White, Ph.D. (2002) 
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA 

MerlinWhite@boisestate.edu

Matías J. Cafaro, Ph.D. (2003) 
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA 

matcaf@gamil.com

Christopher L. Frey, Lab Assistant
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA
Amy E. Slaymaker, M. A. (1996-1998) 
Department of Entomology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA 

Alexandra M. Gottlieb, Postdoctoral Research Associate (1998-1999) 
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina 

alexgott@hotmail.com

Barbara L. Hayford, Ph. D., Trainee 
Kansas Biological Survey, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
María Gabriela Mazzucchelli, Trainee 
Centro de Estudios Parasitológicos y de Vectores, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 
La Plata, Argentina 

Updated: 15 October 2007.  Please send comments and suggestions to: licht@ku.edu or matcaf@ku.edu

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