A new microsporidian genus and species, Myrmecomorba nylanderiae, is described from North American populations of the tawny crazy ant, Nylanderia fulva. This new species was found to be heterosporous producing several types of binucleate spores in both larval and adult stages and an abortive octosporoblastic sporogony in adult ants. While microsporidia are widespread arthropod parasites, this description represents only the fifth species described from an ant host. Molecular analysis indicated that this new taxon is phylogenetically closely allied to the microsporidian family Caudosporidae, a group known to parasitize aquatic black fly larvae. We report the presence of 3 spore types (Type 1 DK, Type 2 DK, and octospores) with infections found in all stages of host development and reproductive castes. This report documents the first pathogen infecting N. fulva, an invasive ant of considerable economic and ecological consequence.
Keywords: Intracellular parasite; Microsporidia; Myrmecomorba nylanderiae; Nylanderia fulva; Phylogeny; Ultrastructure.
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