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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314460

Research Project: Invasive Ant Biology and Control

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research

Title: Myrmecomorba nylanderiae gen. et sp. nov., a microsporidian parasite of the Tawny Crazy Ant, Nylanderia fulva

Author
item Plowes, Robert - University Of Texas
item Becnel, James
item Lebrun, Edward - University Of Texas
item Oi, David
item Valles, Steven
item Jones, Nathan - University Of Texas
item Gilbert, Lawrence - University Of Texas

Submitted to: Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2015
Publication Date: 5/29/2015
Citation: Plowes, R.M., Becnel, J.J., Lebrun, E.G., Oi, D.H., Valles, S.M., Jones, N.T., Gilbert, L.E. 2015. Myrmecomorba nylanderiae gen. et sp. nov., a microsporidian parasite of the Tawny Crazy Ant, Nylanderia fulva. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 129:45-56.

Interpretive Summary: The tawny crazy ant is an invasive ant from South America that develops extremely large populations which inundate and dominate natural, agricultural, industrial, and residential landscapes. This ant is reported from nearly 30 counties each in Texas and Florida, and is spreading into other Gulf Coast states. Control options are limited for TCA with the spraying of residual insecticides as the basis for most control programs. Because of overwhelming TCA populations, desperate property owners apply excessive amounts of pesticides, professional pest control services find reducing populations to tolerable levels difficult, and property values can decline. One approach toward achieving sustained control of invasive ants is the use of natural enemies, such as pathogens and parasites. Scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, and the USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology have discovered and described a new pathogen, Myrmecomorba nylanderiae, from North American populations of the tawny crazy ant. Infections were found in all life stages of worker ants (eggs, larvae, pupae, adults), and in queens. Future studies will examine the biology and the impact of this pathogen on the tawny crazy ants, an invasive ant of considerable economic and ecological consequence.

Technical Abstract: 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 4 spore types (Type DK1, DK2, meiospores and megaspores) with infections found in all stages of host development and reproductive castes. This is the first description of a pathogen infecting Nylanderia fulva, an invasive ant of considerable economic and ecological consequence.