Broadscale Specificity in a Bark Beetle–Fungal Symbiosis: a Spatio-temporal Analysis of the Mycangial Fungi of the Western Pine Beetle

Ryan R. Bracewell, Diana L. Six

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Whether and how mutualisms are maintained through ecological and evolutionary time is a seldom studied aspect of bark beetle–fungal symbioses. All bark beetles are associated with fungi and some species have evolved structures for transporting their symbiotic partners. However, the fungal assemblages and specificity in these symbioses are not well known. To determine the distribution of fungi associated with the mycangia of the western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicomis), we collected beetles from across the insect’s geographic range including multiple genetically distinct populations. Two fungi, Entomocorticium sp. B and Ceratocystiopsis brevicomi, were isolated from the mycangia of beetles from all locations. Repeated sampling at two sites in Montana found that Entomocorticium sp. B was the most prevalent fungus throughout the beetle’s flight season, and that females carrying that fungus were on average larger than females carrying C. brevicomi. We present evidence that throughout the flight season, over broad geographic distances, and among genetically distinct populations of beetle, the western pine beetle is associated with the same two species of fungi. In addition, we provide evidence that one fungal species is associated with larger adult beetles and therefore might provide greater benefit during beetle development. The importance and maintenance of this bark beetle–fungus interaction is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)859-870
    Number of pages12
    JournalMicrobial Ecology
    Volume68
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 2014

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