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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330298

Research Project: Management and Biology of Arthropod Pests and Arthropod-borne Plant Pathogens

Location: Emerging Pests and Pathogens Research

Title: Pandora bullata (Entomophthorales) affecting calliphorid flies in Central Brazil

item MONTALVA, C. - Federal University Of Goias
item COLLIER, K. - Unirg University Center
item LUZ, C. - Federal University Of Goias
item Humber, Richard

Submitted to: ACTA TROPICA
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2016
Publication Date: 6/1/2016
Citation: Montalva, C., Collier, K., Luz, C., Humber, R.A. 2016. Pandora bullata (Entomophthorales) affecting calliphorid flies in Central Brazil. ACTA TROPICA. 158:177-180.

Interpretive Summary: As part of a survey of central Brazilian fungal pathogens affecting flies, we found an active outbreak of a fungal disease on blue bottle flies in the garbage dump at Cavalcante in northern Goias state, and observed this outbreak over a period of three days; one of the authors revisited this site two months later after the collapse of the host population. The fungus was not identifiable as Pandora bullata until the discovery of a very small number of thick-walled, distinctively decorated resting spores were found in the few flies collected in the later visit. Such resting spores form abundantly in flies diseased by this same fungus in colder North American climates; the Brazilian collecting site was in the mid-tropics, and the ambient temperatures never get so low as for known North American collections of this fungus that always include abundant resting spores. This paper provides the first Brazilian (and South American) records of this particular fungus. This report suggests that it might be reasonable to look at other similar sorts of fly-infested sites rarely visited in any part of the world to find fungal pathogens. The magnitude of the disease outbreak recorded here suggests that P. bullata might provide some appreciable natural control over susceptible fly populations; houseflies were also abundant at this site but were not affected by this fungal species. Blue and green bottle flies (as well as even more pestiferous flies from the family Sarcophagidae) are known hosts of P. bullata, and this paper expands on the understanding of the global distribution and potential importance of this pathogen as a natural enemy of some major pest fly species.

Technical Abstract: Fungi are where one finds them, and if one seeks fungal pathogens affecting flies, then a garbage dump may be an ideal place to find both persistent, abundant fly populations and their fungal pathogens. An obvious fungal epizootic affecting blue bottle flies, Chrysomyia megacephala (Diptera: Calliphoridae), was observed over three consecutive days in mid-February 2015 at the local garbage dump adjacent to the city of Cavalcante, northern Goiás. This site also harbored very large populations of a muscid fly (possibly Musca domestica) in addition to the C. megacephala but only the calliphorids were found to be heavily mycotized; this fungus was identified as the first Brazilian (and South American) findings of Pandora bullata (Entomophthorales: Entomophthoraceae). Very few infected individuals of C. megacephala were found at this site in early April, but those cadavers included small numbers of the resting spores of P. bullata. We do not know whether such abiotic factors as latitude (13°46'40.53" S), day length, or even precipitation patterns in this mid-tropical, montane site might somehow diminish the capacity of this fungus to produce the resting spores characteristically seen to be formed in abundance for entomophthoran entomopathogens in more temperate latitudes. Epizootic events affecting calliphorids in Brazil strengthen the interest in entomophthoran pathogens for biological fly control.