Gomez et al. (2017) - Laboulbeniales is an order of ascomycetous fungi consisting of over 2000 species that have obligate association with arthropods, mostly insects, especially Coleoptera and Diptera, and on a few ant species, mites, thrips and millipedes (Tavares, 1985). Those fungi show a rather high level of host specificity. Their study remains in a challenging interface, between entomologists and mycologists and, consequently, clearly belong in the domain of a very few specialists in the world.
Ants are known to harbor six species of Laboulbeniales: two species of the genus Rickia Cavara (on Myrmica or Messor hosts), one Dimorphomyces (on Nylanderia) and three species of Laboulbenia (on Camponotus, Lasius, Formica, Polyergus, Myrmecocystus, Prenolepis, Eciton). The global database of published ant- Laboulbeniales interactions contains 125 instances, from 95 localities and 28 countries (unpub. data).
In the splendid work on the Ants of the Congo Basin (Wheeler, 1922), Bequaert writes about general ant-fungus relationships, and mentions Laboulbeniales noting “... they are inconspicuous and, when examined in situ on the host insect, appear in general like minute, usually dark-colored or yellowish bristles or bushy hairs, projecting from its chitinous integument either singly or in pairs, more commonly scattered, but often densely crowded over certain areas on which they form a furry coating.”. The thallus attaches to the insect cuticle with a darkened foot. There are no penetrating hyphae or rhizoids into the ant body cavity in Laboulbenia formicarum Thaxter and L. camponoti Batra, or Rickia wasmannii Cavara and R. lenoirii Santamaria (Tragust et al., 2016). Therefore, the energy source(s) for growing and reproducing in ant-Laboulbeniales is unknown. This is an intriguing and fundamental issue to unravel in the biology of Laboulbeniales.
|Camponotus aethiops||Laboulbenia camponoti||Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Spain|
|Camponotus baldaccii||Laboulbenia camponoti||Turkey|
|Camponotus oasium||Laboulbenia camponoti||Senegal|
|Camponotus pilicornis||Laboulbenia camponoti||Spain|
|Camponotus sp.||Laboulbenia camponoti||Bulgaria, India|
|Camponotus sylvaticus||Laboulbenia camponoti||Spain|
|Camponotus universitatis||Laboulbenia camponoti||Bulgaria|
- Espadaler, X., Santamaria, S. 2012. Ecto- and Endoparasitic Fungi on Ants from the Holarctic Region. Psyche Article ID 168478, 10 pages (doi:10.1155/2012/168478).
- Gomez, K., X. Espadaler, and S. Santamaria. 2017. First Record of an Epizoic Laboulbenia (Fungi: Laboulbeniales) on Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Africa. Sociobiology. 64:155-158. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v64i2.1532