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A remarkable example of symbiosis between an animal and a fungus in a new species of legless mealybug (Insecta: Pseudococcidae).

Gavrilov-Zimin, I. A.

Journal of Natural History 2017 Vol 51 No. 37/38 pp. 2211-2224;

Abstract

A new species and a new monotypic genus of legless mealybug, Orbuspedum machinator gen. et sp. nov., are described and illustrated, based on material collected from bamboo twigs in southern Thailand. Larvae and females of the new species each live inside an individual conical domicile constructed from densely packed fungal hyphae of the sooty mould Capnodium sp., mixed with small quantities of wax, secreted by the mealybug. The domicile is enlarged as the insect grows; the insect irrigates the hyphae with honeydew through a small orifice at the apex of the domicile. While the insect produces honeydew and feeds the fungus, the fungus grows around the insect, protects it from predators, and buttresses the soft apodal body of the mealybug. Such a remarkable example of mutualistic symbiosis between an animal and a fungus is reported for the first time.www.zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:C0A84631-C6A0-4177-BC50-A71D6281107F.