|Werner, S; Peršoh, D; Rambold, G: Basidiobolus haptosporus is frequently associated with the gamasid mite Leptogamasus obesus, Fungal Biology, 116, 90–97 (2012), doi:10.1016/j.funbio.2011.10.004|
Two species of mites inhabiting a pine forest soil were screened for associated fungi. The fungal community composition was assessed in 49 mite and 19 soil samples by environmental PCR with a focus on fungi of the genus Basidiobolus. PCR products of the fungal ITS rRNA gene were analysed by sub-cloning, RFLP-analysis and sequencing. Thereby Basidiobolus haptosporus was found for the first time to be frequently associated with the gamasid mite species Leptogamasus obesus, while being absent from the oribatid mite Oppiella subpectinata, and from the surrounding soil. The fungus was isolated in pure culture for a detailed morphological characterization and experimental approaches concerning the nature of this fungus-mite association. The experiments and a supporting microscopic screening of freshly captured gamasid mites revealed no indications for the fungus being localized in the mites’ gut or hemocoel, but a single spore was found attached to an individual of L. obesus. However, an exclusive phoretic association does not satisfactorily explain the frequent detection of B. haptosporus DNA on or in L. obesus, and the absence of the fungus from soil samples seems not to be in line with its assumed ecology as a widespread saprobic soil fungus. Therefore, a second host species in the life cycle of B. haptosporus is discussed as a working hypothesis.