Mapping Millipedes and Their Microscopic Milieu Elevates Excitement for Eccrinales Endobiont Extremes by Tracking Trichomycete Traits Across Scattered States

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date

April 2016

Faculty Sponsor

Merlin White


Trichomycetes is an ecological group of microorganisms, with both fungi and protist members, associated with the guts of arthropods. It was a former class of Fungi, including four orders, with one, the Eccrinales, now recognized as a part of a smaller clade called Mesomycetozoea. Upon dissecting digestive tracts of infested hosts under a stereomicroscope, “eccrinids” appear as unbranched, hair-like thalli attached to the gut lining by a cement-excreting holdfast. Methodologically, gut linings and any attached thalli are wet mounted on microscope slides, imaged live and/or stained and preserved as vouchers. Qualitative and quantitative aspects (measurements of informative characters such as thalli, holdfasts, and spores) are the backbone of traditional morphotaxonomy and species identification. Ecologically and in terms of life history, asexual spores, the sporangiospores, are released and either germinate in the same gut or are excreted to the external environment. There they remain until ingested by the same or another individual, with varied infestation rates depending on the population and niche. With a tendency for some degree of host specificity, one common host group of “eccrinids” is Diplopoda, or millipedes. Candidate hosts were collected from sites across the continental USA as part of a preliminary survey, presented herein.

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