Ophiostomatoid fungi are well known as economically important pathogens and agents of timber degradation. A unique assemblage of these arthropod-associated organisms including species of Gondwanamyces G. J. Marais and M. J. Wingf., and Ophiostoma Syd. and P. Syd. occur in the floral heads (infructescences) of Protea L. species in South Africa. It has recently been discovered that Ophiostoma found in Protea flower-heads are vectored by mites (Acarina) including species of: Tarsonemus Canestrini and Fonzago, Proctolaelaps Berlese, and Trichouropoda Berlese. It is, however, not known how the mites carry the fungi between host plants. In this study, we consider two possible modes of mite dispersal. These include self-dispersal between infructescences and dispersal through insect vectors. Results showed that, as infructescences desiccate, mites self-disperse to fresh moist infructescences. Long-range dispersal is achieved through a phoretic association with three beetle species: Genuchus hottentottus (F.), Trichostetha fascicularis L., and T. capensis L. The long-range, hyperphoretic dispersal of O. splendens G. J. Marais and M. J. Wingf. and O. phasma Roets et al. seemed effective, because their hosts were colonized during the first flowering season 3-4 yr after fire.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Journal publication date2009

ID: 46122