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Dynamic environments of fungus-farming termite mounds exert growth-modulating effects on fungal crop parasites

Katariya, Lakshya and Ramesh, Priya B and Borges, Renee M (2018) Dynamic environments of fungus-farming termite mounds exert growth-modulating effects on fungal crop parasites. In: ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, 20 (3). pp. 971-979.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14026


This study investigated for the first time the impact of the internal mound environment of fungus-growing termites on the growth of fungal crop parasites. Mounds of the termite Odontotermes obesus acted as (i) temperature and relative humidity (RH) stabilisers' showing dampened daily variation and (ii) extreme environments' exhibiting elevated RH and CO2 levels, compared to the outside. Yet, internal temperatures exhibited seasonal dynamics as did daily and seasonal CO2 levels. During in situ experiments under termite-excluded conditions within the mound, the growth of the crop parasite Pseudoxylaria was greater inside than outside the mound, i.e., Pseudoxylaria is termitariophilic'. Also, ex situ experiments on parasite isolates differing in growth rates and examined under controlled conditions in the absence of termites revealed a variable effect with fungal growth decreasing only under high CO2 and low temperature conditions, reflecting the in situ parasite growth fluctuations. In essence, the parasite appears to be adapted to survive in the termite mound. Thus the mound microclimate does not inhibit the parasite but the dynamic environmental conditions of the mound affect its growth to varying extents. These results shed light on the impact of animal-engineered structures on parasite ecology, independent of any direct role of animal engineers.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belong to WILEY, 111 RIVER ST, HOBOKEN 07030-5774, NJ USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2018 20:09
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2018 20:09
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/59590

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