Diversity and function of fungi associated with the fungivorous millipede, Brachycybe lecontii

Fungal Ecol. 2019 Oct:41:187-197. doi: 10.1016/j.funeco.2019.06.006. Epub 2019 Jul 9.


Fungivorous millipedes (subterclass Colobognatha) likely represent some of the earliest known mycophagous terrestrial arthropods, yet their fungal partners remain elusive. Here we describe relationships between fungi and the fungivorous millipede, Brachycybe lecontii. Their fungal community is surprisingly diverse, including 176 genera, 39 orders, four phyla, and several undescribed species. Of particular interest are twelve genera conserved across wood substrates and millipede clades that comprise the core fungal community of B. lecontii. Wood decay fungi, long speculated to serve as the primary food source for Brachycybe species, were absent from this core assemblage and proved lethal to millipedes in pathogenicity assays while entomopathogenic Hypocreales were more common in the core but had little effect on millipede health. This study represents the first survey of fungal communities associated with any colobognath millipede, and these results offer a glimpse into the complexity of millipede fungal communities.

Keywords: Apophysomyces; Brachycybe; Colobognatha; Diplopoda; Mortierella; entomopathogenicity; fungal diversity; millipede; mycophagy.