Spore Dispersal of Fetid Lysurus mokusin by Feces of Mycophagous Insects
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The ecological roles and biological mechanisms of zoochory in plants have long been foci in studies of co-evolutionary processes between plants and animals. However, the dispersal of fungal spores by animals has received comparatively little attention. In this study, the dispersal of spores of a selected fetid fungus, Lysurus mokusin, via feces of mycophagous insects was explored by: collecting volatiles emitted by the fungus using dynamic headspace extraction and analyzing them by GC-MS; testing the capacity of mycophagous insects to disperse its spores by counting spores in their feces; comparing the germinability of L. mokusin spores extracted from feces of nocturnal earwigs and natural gleba of the fungus; and assessing the ability of L. mokusin volatiles to attract insects in bioassays with synthetic scent mixtures. Numerous spores were detected in insects’ feces, the bioassays indicated that L. mokusin odor (similar to that of decaying substances) attracts diverse generalist mycophagous insects, and passage through the gut of Anisolabis maritima earwigs significantly enhanced the germination rate of L. mokusin spores. Therefore, nocturnal earwigs and diurnal flies probably play important roles in dispersal of L. mokusin spores, and dispersal via feces may be an important common dispersal mechanism for fungal reproductive tissue.
KeywordsButanoic acid Lysurus Mycophagous Sapromyiophily Dispersal strategy Phallaceae
The authors thank staff of Sees-editing Ltd. (www.sees-editing.co.uk) and Dr. Bruce L. Dunn (Oklahoma State University) for help in editing the text. We thank Dr. Hong-Zhang Zhou and Dr. Zhu-Liang Yang for help in identifying insects (earwigs, rove beetles) and the fungus L. mokusin, respectively. Support for this study was provided through grants from the Natural Science Foundation of China (31100177) and West Doctor Foundation of Chinese Academy of Sciences to Gao Chen.
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