Thesis

The association of fungi and spiders

Reports of fungi growing on spiders number less than ten. None of the reports had indicated that the spider was alive at the time of the observation of the fungus. No studies have been made on infecting spiders with fungi, although there is extensive knowledge about fungal infections of insects. Collections of spiders from various habitats around Southern California were made to survey the fungi associated with these organisms. These spiders were incubated in the laboratory, in an attempt to allow the associated fungi to infect the spiders. In no case did a fungal infection develop on a living spider. Two methods were used to try to infect spiders with the known insect pathogen, Beauvaria. Spores were dusted on the integument of the spider, and spores were placed on the freshly exposed stump of the coxa, after leg removal. In neither set of experiments did a fungal infection develop. Whole, surface sterilized, living spiders were crushed onto agar plates spread with Beauvaria spores . Zones of fungal inhibition were observed surrounding the crushed spider. These observations led to the conclusion that spiders have a defense mechanism preventing fungal infection.

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