Microbial Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 175-182

Interaction of competing fungi with fly larvae

  • John LussenhopAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago
  • , Donald T. WicklowAffiliated withNorthern Regional Research Center, USDA-ARS

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Saprophytic fungi have degradative abilities and interspecific interactions which suggest that resource use and yield should increase as species number increases, but previous studies show the opposite. As a test of the possibility that invertebrate activity changes fungal resource use patterns, we grew coprophilous fungi on rabbit feces at the same initial density singly or in mixtures of 2, 4, or 6 species, with or without activity of larvalLycoriella mali (Diptera: Sciaridae). Fungi in mixtures without larvae caused less weight loss in one mixture, and greater weight loss in 2 mixtures than when growing alone; fungi in 4 of 6 mixtures produced fewer spores than when growing alone. Overall, without larvae, weight loss did not increase as number of fungal species increased. Larvae did not change the pattern of weight loss or proportions of spores caused by mixing fungal species. Numbers of larvae surviving to pupate rose as fungal species numbers increased; as a result, weight loss increased with fungal species number in cultures with larvae.