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Ecological costs in a fly-fungus mutualism

Ecological costs in a fly-fungus mutualism

American Midland Naturalist, 1261: 208-211

Phorbia phrenione, an anthomyiid fly, is a "pollinating parasite" of the fungus, Epichloe lyphina (Ascomycota). During oviposition the fly "pollinates" the fungus by transporting spermatia between self-incompatible fungal stromata and subsequent fly larvae may consume perithecia that produce fungal propagules. To better understand the nature of the interaction we conducted daily field observations of the fly/fungus system at the Reis Biological Station in Crawford Co., Mo. for 7 weeks during the summer of 1989. We found that stromata with multiple fly eggs were significantly longer than those with none or one egg. A substantial number (12/30) of eggs disappeared, perhaps due to rain, from stromata before hatching. Larvae consumed an average of 43% of the perithecial material of stromata and also appeared to prevent perithecia from forming. Our results suggest a substantial cost to the fungus (in terms of lost perithecia) when it interacts with the fly.

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Accession: 002077838

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DOI: 10.2307/2426166

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